How you can use emotional regulation to feel better

A mother experiencing overwhelm

Life has never been busier for parents, who are juggling the demands of kids, responsibilities and jobs on any given day. 

Our emotional load therefore can feel overwhelming, and it may seem impossible to find a way to peace through it all.  

This is where emotional regulation techniques come in- little ways to carve out some you-time and mental relief.  

What is emotional regulation? 

Emotional regulation is the ability to gain control of your feelings and emotions before they begin to spiral. Over time and with practice, you can use your trusted emotional regulation tactics automatically to take care of your mental health and avoid becoming overloaded. 

These coping strategies can also lead to more harmonious relationships as you will be more able to manage your emotions and avoid arguments, as well as improved health in general as you deal with your stress levels better. 

Father stressed, and trying to work from home with children.

Emotional regulation in children

Managing big feelings is often difficult for children as they are not yet used to dealing with strong emotions. Helping kids find ways to handle their feelings boosts their ability to cope with what life throws at them. 

Often, what works for us will work for kids too. The suggestions below can help both adults and children. 

Emotional regulation strategies

What works well for one person may not be the best option for another, so try out a few different options from these suggestions to find your best strategy: 


  • Make a self-soothe box. A self-soothe box is a shoebox containing items that make you feel calm or happy. The contents are chosen by you and personal to you. Click here (link) to check out our self-soothe box suggestions.  

  • Spend a few minutes on a breathing exercise. There are a number of different calming breathing methods you could try- follow along with our box breathing exercise as a starting point.

  • Find an activity that focuses your mind. You might like to try crosswords, wordsearches or even drawing. These gentle exercises take your mind off of what’s been bothering you and places it on something calm and productive instead. 

  • Listen to uplifting music. You can create a playlist of happy tunes, or songs that make you relax. 

  • Use sensory items. Kids might like to fidget with stress balls or squishy toys when they are stressed, and adults can smell aromatherapy oils to engage their senses. 

  • Try a grounding exercise. When feeling flooded with emotions, use your senses to take in what’s around you. Start with 5 things you can see, then notice 4 things you can feel, and actually touch them. Go on to 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and lastly what you can currently taste.  

A stressed father with his children.
  • Take a little time out. For both adults and kids, 15 minutes in a quiet space away from others can be helpful to calm down and regulate the mind. If kids are currently in a ‘rage stage’- i.e. furious and volatile, then stay close but out of harm’s way while they calm down- perhaps sit by their bedroom door. During this time out, avoid screens and help them focus on being quiet and taking some deep breaths. You can also take a time out when you’re feeling stressed- close your eyes, get comfortable and breathe deep.  

  • Write in a journal. Getting feelings out onto paper is a great way to make sense of our feelings and gain some clarity. Leaving the feelings on the page also gives us some distance from problems. Younger children might enjoy drawing a picture of how they feel, and older kids may like having a notebook to write in. This is also a great outlet for adults.  


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