Mom with her child

The Challenges of Parenting

PARENTING – arguably, the hardest job on earth (and the most rewarding!)

Whether you are a parent, thinking about becoming one, or sorting through your own experiences of being parented, there are hundreds of books and resources online to help guide through the complexity and

“the Challenges of Parenting.”

In the book, “Self-Reg: How To Help Your Child (And You) Break the Stress Cycle and
Successfully Engage With Life,” Dr. Stuart Shanker attempts to assist us with sorting through the
challenges of parenting.

A big part of having children who can feel, identify, and deal with their emotions, even so called
‘negative’ ones, is having a parent who is able to self-regulate their own emotions. This is just a
fancy word for being able to handle your feelings.

Have you ever noticed when you’re with a child (or anyone for that matter) if you’re calm and
grounded, they are too! This is no accident. Our children feed off the energy of the big people
in their lives, so when we find ourselves stressed and overwhelmed – they feel this – even as

Self-regulation is the nervous system’s response to dealing with stress; there are lots of young
children/teens dealing with and feeling stress these days. This can mean dealing with big
feelings and sometimes big behaviours because of those feelings and stressors.

Dr Stuart Shanker describes self-regulation as an awareness of stressors, how the stress impacts
us, and our ability to develop ways to manage it. Sometimes this is hard!

Our children need us
to be the most regulated when they are struggling emotionally and behaviorally.

Let’s try an experiment:
Take a look at this picture and see if there is something in the duck’s bill:

duck or bunny illusion

Now take a look at this picture and see if there is something in the rabbit’s mouth:

duck or bunny illusion

When you see a child differently, you see a different child. (Stuart Shanker).

If you need some support to be able to regulate your own emotions and therefore be a co-pilot
in regulating your children, give us a call – we’re happy to help!


The Therapists at Emmaus Psychology provide counselling to adults, children, families, parents,
and couples. Emmaus Psychology specializes in the mental health and emotional wellbeing of
all individuals, experiencing a wide variety of concerns; anxiety, depression, shame, OCD, stress,
relational issues, trauma, life transitions, emotional dysregulation, child and youth issues, pre-
partum/peri-partum support, and family conflict.


Article written by:

Emma Bulman

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