Regulators

My grandson has a vast array of strong feelings with virtually no capacity to manage them.  He’s 18 months old so this is not only perfectly normal and developmentally appropriate, it is pretty darn cute.

 

Since infancy he has had an obsession with vacuuming.  My floors have never been this clean. But he has no LIMITS on how long he is willing to vacuum.  Inevitably, Pops and Meme wear out before he is ready to move on to another fun adventure. Like leaf blowing.

 

When we need to redirect him to another task, he learned very early how to dramatically present his dissenting viewpoint.  These responses are typically referred to as temper tantrums. I’ve never heard a kid yell “No!” with such conviction! Eventually our family strategized about our response and he gave up the ineffective foot stomping, vehement use of the word NO and the wild swinging of arms that looked suspiciously like a sucker punch.  But the kid still has strong feelings he needs to express. Lately he has picked up the most adorable response of growling! He growls.

 

My grandson, whether he realizes it or not, is developing the skill set of resiliency.  Resilient people know how to recognize and own strong feelings without being impulsive and out of control.  They know how to use their thinking to manage their feelings. For now, growling without temper tantrums seems acceptable emotional expression for an 18 month old.  If he’s still doing this when he is 40 years old, that problem will need to be addressed!

 

How are you doing with your own emotional regulation?  Do you react or respond when triggered? Do you have some developmentally appropriate physiological self-soothing techniques that are not illegal, immoral or fattening? A sign of maturity is the ability to respond, learn when to take a break, and how to self-soothe when we are emotionally wound up.