My name is Alley and I’m the Clinical Director of a private school and multi-disciplinary therapeutic team in Toronto (Magnificent Minds Inc.)  I’m also a mom of 3, wife, yogi, and rom-com junkie. 

My background is in counselling psychology, behavioural science, and therapeutic yoga and mindfulness; I work with parents, educators, therapists and pre-grown ups (2-18) to tackle issues from self-regulation to boundary setting and self-advocacy in the home and community. 

One thing I try to prioritize (in my work and personal life) is that when our kids are riding the wave of big feelings, we have to bring “the calm”. 

Super easy, right?

Nope! Can we just acknowledge how much work it takes to actually do that?Parenting is hard! Knowing what to do and say is tough enough, and then knowing how to do and say it – all while managing our OWN (very human!) reactions and responses on top of it all? Yeowzas!

I get it – personally and professionally. Here are my 2 best tips for riding out the storm in a way that protects boundaries, encourages respectful self-advocacy, and supports self-regulation. 

1. Model don’t match. 

When our kids approach us at a level 10 (think: BIG feelings), we don’t want to come back at them matching their level. If we combine their 10 with our 10, we end up with a “20 level” emotional alarm! That’s a fire that is hard to put out.

Instead, we need to model the level we want THEM to match. When they get loud, we get quiet. When they get reactive, we remain neutral/mindful. 

2. Repeat after me: “Holding space (as in, showing up compassionately) doesn’t require me to fix this problem”. 

The truth is, there is no magic recipe for “solving the problem”. In fact, often, thereisn’t really a “problem” to be solved. 

Let me say that again: There isn’t always a problem to solve!

Your tween or teen simply is learning to experience the world, make sense of it, and express how they are making sense of it. They need these opportunities to work through emotions on their own in order to develop self-awareness, resilience and become better equipped to cope over time with what life throws at them.

Think of these moments as opportunities to practice problem solving alongside them! 

Here’s a bonus tip: We do not have to be perfect. We are learning alongside our kids and that’s ok–no, that’s REALLY GOOD!

You are doing great!