Listen to Episode 11

In this episode we discuss the differences between being an emotional thermostat and a thermometer. It’s important that we can recognise when we are behaving like a thermometer and unable to regulate our emotional temperature!

About our hosts:

Sophia

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sophiagiblin

A creative entrepreneur who focuses on ways to tackle the root of children’s mental health through play and secure relationships. Due to her own challenging experiences in childhood, Sophia went on to establish a thriving Play & Creative Arts Therapy charity to support other children who have experienced trauma. Her focus is on helping therapists, businesses and charities have more of an impact for children and families that they work with through coaching, strategy, fundraising and mentoring.

Nicole

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mcdonnellnicole/

Nicole is a mum to two young boys, who also has over 20 years of brand marketing experience. She is a previous Chair Trustee at Clear Sky Charity and has past experience on the Ella’s Kitchen board.  Her roles have included Marketing Director, Head of Ella’s-ness, Global Brand Director with responsibility of creating and building one brand inside and out – including the wellbeing and culture of the team.  Nicole was instrumental in growing Ella’s into a multi-million pound international business, driven by the mission of creating healthy children.

About Treasure Time

Our vision is to drive connected, happy parent-child relationships, for the benefit of the whole family. Our mission and passion is to educate parents in how to become happy, mindful and confident in connecting with their own children through play.

Resources

Treasure Time digital course for parents

Treasure Time Instagram

Treasure Time Facebook Group

Treasure Time Parents Facebook

Value bombs and tweetables:

I’m pretty calm and patient as a person, saying that my boys do certainly know how to press all my buttons at once sometimes. So yeah, it can be tricky in those moments to remember that my goal is to be like that emotional thermostat. Not thermometer in the room rising and rising – Nicole

– When you become aware of how you’re behaving and start acting more like an emotional thermostat by tuning in and containing your own feelings, you start seeing a big shift in the levels of calmness at home – Sophia

So when I did let my emotions over spill with my children, it would make me so sad because I was like, why am I doing this with the little people that I love most in the whole world? – Nicole

When you feel like you’ve reached the end of your tether, and you’ve reached that boiling point, we’ve already missed the opportunity for learningSophia

When it comes to regulating our emotions, we should aim to be a thermostat, not a thermometer… the thermostat is in charge of the whole environment through its awareness and through its ability to sense when things are changing… we can do this in an emotional capacity for our children by noticing their feelings and when they’re escalating and adapting our behaviour accordingly to maintain the emotional temperature. This is the opposite of being a thermometer. When we act like as a thermometer we’re unaware of our own feelings and behaviour. And when we allow our emotional temperature to rise in line with the child’s emotional temperature, they both just go up together… so the thermometer is actually incapable of making changes to the environment. And this is what happens to us when we are unaware of our feelingsSophia

Keywords

Children emotional podcast moment feelings thermostat treasure thermometer boundary day tune emotions temperature playful learning skills

Transcript

Sophia 

Hey, it’s Sophia.

Nicole 

Hey, it’s Nicole.

Sophia 

Welcome to the Treasure Time podcast growing up happy. Today’s podcast is all about our seventh principle of treasure time, which is keeping your emotions in check. This is probably one of the most important principles and if you’ve been listening to this podcast, you know that there’s always a dual process with yourself and with your child. So when we’re talking about treasure time principles, we’re not always just talking about children, although that’s mainly the case, we have to really tune into ourselves and understand ourselves better. So keeping our emotions in check means that we make sure that we own our own feelings, and we contain them so that we don’t escalate upwards with feelings of our children. And that’s when things can really get out of control when our children’s emotional temperature goes up. And then our emotional temperature goes up at the same time. Nicole how do you find this to do?

Nicole 

Well, there are good and bad moments, right? I’m pretty calm and patient as a person, saying that my boys do certainly know how to press all my buttons at once sometimes. So yeah, it can be tricky in those moments to remember that my goal is to be like that emotional thermostat. Not thermometer in the room rising and rising.

Sophia 

Yeah, so the concept of this emotional thermostat that Nicole’s talking about something I taught her a few years ago. And that it comes from Gary Landreth, who’s a play therapist. He says that when it comes to regulating our emotions, we should aim to be a thermostat, not a thermometer. So the difference between the two, a thermostat maintains the temperature of the environment by being fine tuned into fluctuations and changes in the temperature. When it senses a change either hot or cold it works accordingly to either warm up the room, or cool the room down the thermostats in charge of the whole environment through its awareness and through its ability to sense when things are changing. Now Gary Landreth the play therapist says that we can do this in an emotional capacity for our children by noticing their feelings and when they’re escalating and adapting our behaviour accordingly to maintain the emotional temperature. This is the opposite of being a thermometer. When we act like as a thermometer we’re unaware of our own feelings and behaviour. And when we allow our emotional temperature to rise in line with the child’s emotional temperature, they both just go up together. And that’s exactly what a thermometer does, it just measures the temperature of the environment has no control over it at all. So the thermometer is actually incapable of making changes to the environment. And this is what happens to us when we are unaware of our feelings. It can be really easy for our feelings to escalate in line with our child. And that’s when we hit a boiling point. And that point, there’s often raised voices and sometimes tears. Basically, not much good comes from being a thermometer. But when you become aware of how you’re behaving and start acting more like an emotional thermostat by tuning in and containing your own feelings, you start seeing a big shift in the levels of calmness at home.

Nicole 

Yeah, it has been so worth the time and effort to consciously become the emotional thermostat at home for my boys. It definitely is made a huge difference to our relationship and, and the enjoyment of the day together. It is tricky to do. It’s probably out of the seven principles being the one that’s really made a huge change. So to focus on it at first, I had to do little things to stop myself acting, so I had to count my own breath. Or think about something else to distract me from, you know, being in just as you’ve said, the heat of this moment. So sometimes in my head, I would say something like, just sing a little song like “Let it be, let it be”, you know, the good old wise words from the Beatles! And it would just help make me smile make me come out of that moment. So I honestly don’t remember before having children ever raising my voice with anyone, like maybe I did, but I honestly can’t consciously recall an incident of that, so when I did let my emotions over spill with my children, it would make me so sad because I was like, why am I doing this with the little people that I love most in the whole world? And not only that my role is like, I am supposed to be showing them how to behave. I mean, what goes wrong in those moments? It’s just, it’s so frustrating because you don’t set out to raise your voice with your children. Like that’s not the intention.

Sophia

Yeah, I think children know how to push buttons that we didn’t even know that we had. And most of the time, they’re not doing it on purpose. But like I said before, unless we examine our own experiences as how we’ve been parented, we’ll just parent in the same way that our parents parented us. And sometimes that might include yelling or raising voices. As much as we don’t want to do it. It can be an automatic reaction and not something that we necessarily have control over until we start to really think about the way that we’re acting and behaving, and to starting to understand our own triggers and why we might be doing that. And when we think about this with children, the reality is that raising our voices, teaches children to stay in line or to behave from a place of fear rather than real understanding or learning. And as I said to you all those years ago, Nicole sat around your kitchen table, there is another way to do it. But it does require us to learn a new way of understanding ourselves and our children and learning a new way to be together.

Nicole

Yeah totally. So Sophia, how do you think for our listeners, we as parents, as a group can kind of stop that knee jerk reaction and give us some time to respond in that moment, when inside actually you just really want to scream or cry?

Sophia

Well, there’s things that you can do in the moment, like you suggested before you had your smile, smile, smile from the other episode. And, but for me, it’s always better to be proactive than reactive. So I’d really have to think about how you can work on this in times when you don’t feel like you’re already going to explode. When you feel like you’ve reached the end of your tether, and you’ve reached that boiling point, we’ve already missed the opportunity for learning, the rational and logical brain has detached completely for us and for our children. So that’s an actual physiological thing that happens when we’re in fight flight or freeze mode. So no real learning opportunities going to come at that point. And in that moment, it’s just a case of coping and doing the best that you can in the heat of the moment. But if we can harness the time that we have with our children to develop our emotional thermostat skills, we’ll find that we don’t end up in those situations as often, we’ll be more finely tuned in to their needs, and to the to our own needs so that we can maintain the emotional temperature in our environment. And this is like us developing awareness about own thoughts and feelings, understanding and learning more about our children and their needs, and managing and being aware of situations that cause us stress. So we can set ourselves up for success by practicing these skills every day and learning a new way to be with our children, which is exactly what we teach parents in Treasure Time, we don’t only teach them these skills, but we give them the opportunity to practice them in a dedicated playtime with the children 30 minutes a week.

Nicole

Yeah, thanks for fear. I totally agree. It can be really hard to manage a situation when you feel so out of control yourself of how you’re feeling. Is there anything that can be really handy to do or say in those moments in those moments of proactivity that you’ve just explained, to help us keep our emotions in check when we are at that end of tether, or we can feel that that’s happening? What would be a great little tip?

Sophia

Well, I think it’s a good idea to think about those boundary statements that I talked about last week, and quite factual, short, sharp, direct boundary statements that children know what they are and aren’t to do in those moments. So if your child is really doing something that’s causing you a lot of stress, have it pre-planned in your mind what boundaries are and what your child typically does that pushes your buttons. So a good activity that you could do today will be to go through and think about all the things that your children do that cause stress and create short boundary statements for them. So the example that we’ve been using quite a lot in this podcast is if your child wants to pour the milk on the cereal, which is an example that we use quite a lot in this podcast, just all you need to remember is a short statement that says “Mummy needs to help you with the cereal”. So what that means is that you can just say that in the moment, and then your child knows that they’re to put the milk down, and that will stop you from this whole tidal wave of stress from previous weeks coming out of your mouth. Which might sound like, “how many times do I have to tell you, I’ve told you that before. What happened last time”, you know all of this kind of boiling over. If we can be just kind of short and factual about it, “Mummy needs help with the cereal. So you need to put that down”, then that should stop it in the moment. Or if your child always jumps on the sofa, remember the boundary statement. The sofa is for sitting on not for jumping on. And the reality is that we all lose our cool at times, that’s just part of being human. We will all do it. We can’t be perfect all the time. It’s not reality. But we can set ourselves up for success by thinking about the things that our children do and having those short statements in mind. So you can just say them, in the moment factual, not emotional. But in order to make life flow and feel a little bit more enjoyable for you and your children. You can start to reframe the way that you communicate using these short boundary statements. And that’s exactly what treasure time is all about is helping you to reframe your language and your mindset. So that that life is calmer with your children, there’s one activity that you can do every day with your children to help you fine tune those emotional thermostat skills and that’s checking in with your feelings using metaphor. This is a really good one. This is a really good one for us as parents to you because it gives us time to reflect on how we’re feeling. And also to communicate that with our child, and for them to communicate with us how they’re feeling. And this activity will help you to become an emotional thermostat. You can do this at the start of the day, or at random points in the day. You pick a metaphor, like the weather, or flowers or vehicles or animals, and you can change it up every day. And just say to your child, if you’re an animal, what type of animal do you feel like today, and your child might be feeling happy and playful like a chimpanzee or they might be feeling energetic like cheetah or they might be feeling a bit angry like a grizzly bear. So that’s good, you know where your child’s that emotionally today. And then you check in with yourself, you might be feeling slow and tired like a sloth or a bit growly like a tiger. And having these conversations in a childlike, playful way helps you all know where you stand emotionally during the day. And you know, where tensions might arise when yours and your child entities might not match each other. So if your child is feeling playful and energetic like a chimpanzee, and you’re slow and tired like a sloth, you can frame the day so that your child maybe has more time outside to burn off that excess energy. That gives you some time to be in your tired and slow sloth energy. And in that way, use your emotional thermostat skills to contain the feelings and stop tensions from over spilling into day to day life.

Nicole

I absolutely love that game. Sophia, it’s so much fun. We’ve played it a lot with the weather this week. And it’s so it’s so great. Because you instantly learned something that you didn’t know. It’s really, really useful. So yeah, I hope our listeners really enjoy trying out that game with their little ones so that thanks so much Sophia for wrapping up the final number of the seven treasure time principles today. Such great advice and I know I say it every time and I mean it, I love hearing it all again, as you just don’t learn these things as a one off, it doesn’t work like that. It just takes practice and patience. And it’s so worth doing.

Sophia

Yeah, all of the skills take practice. And it’s, as I always say, is lifelong learning. And it’s so specific to your child and you are the expert in your child. Every child is different. So you listen to these podcasts, you can try some of the things out honestly, if you start implementing them, you will see differences. But there’s always more that we can do. And that’s you know, that’s the brilliant thing about it is that we can take control of this. And that’s the magic. So now we’ve covered all seven principles of treasure time. In this podcast, we’ve looked at letting the child lead the play. We’ve looked at accepting all of the child’s feelings good and bad. We’ve looked at reflecting back the child’s feelings and how we can do that. We’ve looked at respecting the child’s ability to solve problems and giving them enough time, so that we don’t rush or hurry the child to develop independence. We’ve looked at holding the boundaries, but being flexible with rules in play, and today, we’ve covered keeping your emotions in check. And if you’re interested in learning any more about the treasure time course you can just go to our website, because we cover this in much, much greater detail.

Nicole

Brilliant, thanks, Sophia and next episode, we have a special guest don’t we.

Sophia

We do!

Nicole

We’ll be talking to Nikki Wilson, the founding mothers in from 10 of Zen, which is an organization that teaches mums mindfulness skills, she helps mums basically quit the chaos for 10 minutes. By providing free meditation resources on our website, so we really look forward to hearing more from her. And she’ll give us lots of hints and tips and also activities to do with the children and her stories are a really, really fascinating one, and we look forward to having her on the show.

Sophia

Thank you so much for listening today. Tune in for our next episode to something a bit different. I can’t wait for this one. Nikki is amazing. we’d love it if you could head to iTunes and give us a five star review and some lovely words if you’ve been enjoying this podcast, as it will help us to continue reaching more and more parents. Thank you so much and goodbye from us. See you next time.

Nicole

Bye!