Mindful Parenting: Emotion Regulation Activities for Children

Every day, we experience a variety of emotions. Whether we feel joy, sadness, happiness, or anger, it is important to know how to control and express our emotions in a healthy way. One way to do this is through emotion regulation, or to successfully manage and express our emotions in different scenarios. [1]

The Handbook of Emotional Development says emotion regulation “is essential to adaptive functioning. Whether to hide our disappointment, keep calm, or pump up our excitement, modifying our emotions to achieve our goals is a daily endeavor.” 

Emotion regulation is a critical skill all children need to learn, and it is especially important for preventing health and behavior issues later in life.



Parents and Emotion Regulation

Researchers found that a child’s emotion regulation is influenced by their parent’s ability to regulate their emotions. [2]

Children learn habits from their parent’s words, actions, and emotions, and unfortunately this includes positive and negative habits like eating [3], media consumption, and responding to challenging situations. 

One study found that aggression in parents was associated with feelings of sadness and anger in their children, [4] and stress and anxiety in parents impact a child’s ability to express themselves.

Because a parent's influence is so strong, emotion regulation is a critical developmental skill for positively influencing our children. 

Effects of Poor Emotion Regulation

Effects of Poor Emotional Regulation - Sad Child in their Bedroom

Poor emotion regulation means individuals are not able to modify or express their emotions in difficult situations. Multiple studies have analyzed the effects of emotion regulation on adults and children.

Effects of poor emotion regulation include:

  • Unhealthy coping strategies such as emotional eating and drug use [5]
  • Social and behavioral anxiety [6]
  • Poor quality of sleep [7]
  • Increased aggression
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Obesity due to emotional eating [8]
  • Increased risk of opioid misuse [9]

Effects of Healthy Emotion Regulation

Good emotion regulation means individuals are able to control and express their emotions through healthy coping strategies.

By improving emotion regulation adults and children see benefits in their health, relationships, and overall well being.

Some effects of good emotion regulation are: 

  • Decreased negative moods
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved emotion awareness
  • Reduced chronic stress
  • Increased social and psychological development

Results show that effectively managing and adapting your emotions to different situations is an important skill that contributes to a better quality of life. [10]



What is mindful parenting?

Mother and Son Hugging - What is Mindful Parenting? Emotion Regulation Strategies for Families

Mindful parenting is applying mindfulness', "moment-to-moment awareness of one's experience without judgment," to the act of raising a child.

Mindful parenting can take many different forms including active listening, not multi-tasking, acceptance, or just slowing down to enjoy life's little moments. 

Jennifer Trebisovsky, author of Make it a Good Day, shares that mindful parenting encourages compassion and understanding, creates loving and comforting spaces for children to just "be," and makes way for trust, empathy, and transparency, which can help reduce stress in the household.

Research has also shown that, "mindfulness interventions for parents may reduce parenting stress and improve youth psychological functioning." [11]

Another research article found that, "children with more mindful mothers were more likely to engage in prosocial sharing behavior than those with mothers who were low in mindful parenting." [12]

Mindful Parenting Resources

Mindful parents give their children the tools to get through tough times. Here are a few more resources to support your family's journey in mindfulness:

Emotional Regulation Activities

One way to develop emotion regulation skills is teaching your child mindfulness. Here are a few mindfulness activities to start practicing with your family that encourage overall health and healthy emotion regulation:

  • Take time each day to practice meditation
  • Prioritize getting a good night's sleep
  • Encourage breaks when you need them
  • Talk to others about how you feel
  • Listen to your emotions
  • Walk in nature or play outside

This list may seem short, but no mindfulness practice is too small to welcome into your life. Here are some more emotional regulation activities to explore:

Children learn positive and negative habits from their parents, which means when we lead by example our children will be inclined to mimic our mindful behaviors.

About Good Luck Yogi

Mindful Parenting - What is emotion regulation?

Good Luck Yogi, or GLY, is a meditation device for children that uses short, guided meditations, natural soundscapes, stories, and positive affirmations to introduce mindfulness and emotion regulation to the entire family.

With GLY, children and parents can build healthy emotion regulation strategies, create a healthy home environment, and learn how to adapt to life’s challenges.

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