Hello everyone! I am delighted to have Jessica Addeo joining me today to discuss how we, as parents, can coregulate ourselves with our children.
Jessica is an occupational therapist who works with women, helping them regulate their nervous systems. As a mom of a highly sensitive kid and someone working with children, I truly admire and appreciate the work of occupational therapists. Trust me, they work wonders!
Understanding and managing our nervous systems is the secret sauce for everything we do as parents. So, get ready to dive into the ins and outs of nervous system regulation with Jessica!
Jessica’s Career Journey
Jessica has had seventeen years of experience as an occupational therapist. She started her career working with other people’s children before realizing that she also needed to regulate her nervous system. So she shifted and became what she calls a nervous system clinician for moms, helping them navigate the challenges associated with parenting.
Coregulation and Occupational Therapy
Coregulation is a term often used in social media but not always fully understood. Jessica explains that we all have mirror neurons in our brains that influence our responses to stress. So, in her view, coregulation is about acknowledging the needs of the most dysregulated person in a given situation and then having everyone else coregulate to the level of stress they are experiencing.
Dysregulation is a Normal Human Experience
Parents must understand that dysregulation is a normal human experience. It is not a character flaw. Placing an ice roller on the back of the neck is an effective practical strategy to cool down the brainstem during moments of stress.
Self-Care and Nervous System Regulation
When Jessica realized she could regulate her nervous system, it marked a pivotal moment in her journey. She explains that everyone has a unique nervous system, and we should structure our lives and those of our children to support our nervous system regulation. She suggests using proprioceptive activities to help our children regulate themselves.
Observing and Understanding Body Signals
Jessica advises parents to observe their child’s body when they are in distress or throwing tantrums to understand which proactive measures to provide. She advises parents to work with an occupational therapist to address their children’s sensory needs and recommends incorporating sensory activities into their daily routines, like applying deep pressure when rubbing lotion onto their bodies.
Sensory Needs After School
When children come home from school, they may be dysregulated due to the demands of the school environment. Parents should encourage activities like running around outdoors to help them release their pent-up energy. They can also incorporate movement, like standing up or sitting in different positions, into their children’s homework routines to help them regulate themselves.
Proprioception and Vestibular System
Jessica explains that activities providing proprioceptive input, like deep pressure, can be helpful for nervous system regulation. The vestibular system also plays a role in spatial awareness. However, parents should be cautious with the vestibular system due to its sensitivity.
Everyone has their way of feeling and reacting due to their unique personalities. That can sometimes get complicated in families, so paying attention and observing how each person is doing can be very helpful.
I want to share an amazing tool called the Polyvagal Card Deck by Deb Dana that I often use in my office. It is a set of exercises designed to calm the nervous system, offering various physical activities that you can either pick randomly or choose intentionally. It is a practical resource for everyone, and you can find it on Amazon.
I also want to mention my self-published book, Explicit Parenting, because it aligns with the philosophy discussed in today’s episode. Explicit Parenting is a simple guide based on four principles: tuning in, knowing yourself, being curious, and being consistent. It may even be available for free right now for Amazon Prime members.
Lastly, I recommend Daniel Siegel’s book Brainstorm, a great read about adolescence. It is helpful if you are wondering what to do when it seems too late to start implementing coregulation strategies with your older kids.
Remember, the answer to the question, Am I a bad mom? is always no!
Links and resources:
Connect with Jessica Addeo
On her website