Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Co-Regulation of Emotions

All parents want their children and teens to be able to effectively manage their emotions and feelings to the best of their ability so that they can be as happy as they can be. Most parents understand that part of their responsibility is to help them learn how to do so. This fundamental ability to manage inner thoughts, experiences, and feelings is called Self-Regulation, and one of the best ways to help your child or teen achieve this is through Co-Regulation. 

What is Co-Regulation? And what can I do to incorporate it into the relationship I have with my child or teen? 

First, it’s helpful to think about what Co-Regulation is not.

It is not being next to your child or teen in every single moment of emotional or behavioral turmoil and does not depend on physical proximity. Actually, attempting to be “too present” can sometimes inhibit your child or teen’s development of Self-Regulation skills. Of course, every kiddo is different, and the actions and responses of parents should take their child or teen’s unique personality, temperament, and developmental stage into account. That being said, the key is to focus on giving just the right amount of support to your child or teen in these stressful moments, the goal being that over time, this amount will slowly decrease. Over time, you should be able to give your child or teen more space and time before intervening in order to provide them with the opportunity to access their inner ability to regulate the emotions that they feel. 


As with most dynamics of parent-child relationships, balance is the key. It’s important to maintain a high level of affection and a high level of clear and consistent boundaries. While it is by no means easy, especially in high-stress situations, the goal of a parent should be to achieve a balance between validating their child’s or teens emotions and guiding them in facing them head-on in a constructive way.

Take a beat. 

When trying to implement Co-Regulation techniques with your child or teen, the best advice we have is to “take a beat”. Like with most things you will go through alongside your child or teen, taking a moment to stop and think, to evaluate the situation, is incredibly helpful. Before rushing to intervene, give yourself (and your child/teen) the opportunity to observe what is happening. Once you have done that, you will be able to show up for your child or teen in the best way possible. 

The road to Co-Regulation with the eventual achievement of strong Self-Regulation skills in your child or teen is a long one. Every parent (and child/teen) will develop these skills at different times and at different rates, and as with everything else, it depends a lot on individual experiences. Just remember to be patient, try whenever possible to find a balance, and remember that this is a marathon not a sprint.