Emotional Regulation
What exactly is emotional regulation?

Simply stated, it is when one is able to regulate or stabilize their emotions. In other words: to remain calm enough to make positive choices.

As adults we have to regulate automatically throughout the day. Some days are harder to regulate than others but it is a life skill that we must all possess.

Think for a minute:

  • How do you react when your boss tells you to do something that you don’t want to do?
  • What if the guy driving next to you ends up cutting you off?
  • What if your child has a meltdown in the middle of the grocery store because they don’t get their own way?


In each of these situations, you need to keep your emotions in check in order to keep yourself from getting into a worse situation! This is especially true when interacting with your kids and when you are in their presence as a role model. Nothing is more potent than in-the-moment reality when teaching your children how to manage life’s disappointments.

What would happen if you yelled and told your boss that you wouldn’t do as told? Would you get written up? Fired? Better not take the chance on either of these outcomes if you want to keep your job!

Let’s take a look at our driving situation. When we let our emotions take over, we are at a disadvantage in making positive choices for ourselves and others. Will your emotions cause you to have a car accident, get into an argument with another driver, or have the police get involved?

And how about those meltdowns in the grocery store? These are times that all parents dread! Will your emotions cause you to panic and give into your child’s every whim to save yourself embarrassment or will you be able to regulate your emotions and feel confident in having a plan to know how to deal with this situation?

In each of the brief descriptions above, I have used consequences from real life events that I have been privy to. No joke – I have seen firsthand that when we let our emotions get the best of us we tend to make decisions that cause consequences that we later regret:

  • Being unemployed
  • A banged up car
  • A child who throws a bigger tantrum the next time in a store because it worked the time before

No one gets a free pass….

Emotional regulation is a must in each of these situations. It is, without a doubt, a necessary life skill needed to succeed in this world – as children and as adults. No one gets a free pass on this one!

Check out this cool graphic, especially the column that is titled “Regulation”!

This is exactly what we are talking about:Under Self-Management there are the following characteristics listed: Emotional Self-Control, Initiative, and Optimism. I think we can all agree that these self-management traits will help all of us find success in our personal, professional, and parenting lifestyles. When we do, the second part of relationship management occurs much more smoothly.

As a whole, being able to use emotional regulation enables all of us to be a trusted role model, someone who can take initiative to solve problems, and also someone who can find positive and healthy ways to deal with life’s ups and downs! Now that is being an example that all kids need!

Your turn, how do you regulate your emotions? Leave a comment below:

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Barb Roba, LMHC, CPC

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