Why Co-regulation is my love language, and why it should be yours too!

Uncategorized Jul 28, 2023


So co-regulation isn’t one of the official 5 love languages, but it really is mine! If you’re wondering what co-regulation is, it’s when one human uses their own emotional self-regulation alongside another (or others), which in turn, helps them to feel more regulated in their emotions. 

I’ve been working hard on self-regulation and co-regulation as a parent, particularly since my second son was born 14 years ago. Before then? Not so much. Co-regulation is easier for some people than others, and for most people will be easier in some settings than in others. 

What’s key to understanding co-regulation is that to do it we need to have our own self-regulation tools in place. For some, this comes more naturally than others and this can be related to personality but mostly relates to the emotional environment that we grew up in. It’s a mixture of nature AND nurture. 

Until the pre-frontal cortex is fully developed children and young adults do well with co-regulation in their lives and ideally from their key care-giver. And did you know that the pre-frontal cortex only starts to develop at 3 years old - and isn’t fully developed until well into the 20s! That’s a whole lot of emotional support, tools and conversation that parents need to give. 

But it’s not as simple as that. Our ability to co-regulate with children as adults is dependent on our own emotional maturity. So self-regulation and co-regulation are both passed on down the generations. The great news is that self-regulation and emotional intelligence can be learned and grown and parenting can be a great time to do it - so don’t feel despondant if you didn’t grow up in an emotionally mature household!

The great thing about growing emotional intelligence as a parent is that there are so many opportunities to do it! In life, we have never been so stretched, so busy and so needed as we are as parents. Kids also tend to push those buttons that make emotions rise (we call these soft spots at The Mindful Breastfeeding School). So this gives parents a chance to see when they feel their emotions get the better of them. Opportunities to tune into the emotions of stress, anger, hurt and rage. And children give us the best reason EVER to find ways and means of processing and then calming those emotions.

This isn’t about parenting children perfectly, nor is it about always being calm. Emotional intelligence and in turn co-regulation come about in the healthiest of ways with a flexible and compassionate approach to personal growth.

I like to think of 3 stages of co-regulation development:

  1. Self -awareness: being able to recognise and understand our own emotions
  2. Emotional Regulation: having tools at our finger-tips to be able to manage our emotions
  3. Co-regulation; modelling this behaviour to others. 

It takes time, but what I have realised is that when you have a love-language of co-regulation, eventually it comes full circle and part of the family environment and ethos. Interestingly, my youngest, who struggles with emotions the most, is always the one to check on me first when she sees I’m dysregulated, reminding me to breathe if I seem stressed or telling me “it’s ok Mummy, we all make mistakes”, when I’m frustrated at myself.

Self-regulation didn’t come naturally or easily to me as a young adult, and being able to see the work that I’ve done since then being reflected back at me in this most beautiful way, makes me so proud. It means that we have a home where emotions are allowed, where my children have the language they need to say how they feel and are growing skills that will help them right through life and into their own adult relationships.

If you’re interested in co-regulation, in how, as a professional, you can start understanding it and learning tools and practices that you can use with parents, then you might be interested in The Co-regulation Course.

You can sign up and start this blended-learning course anytime. https://www.themindfulbreastfeedingschool.com/co-reg-course


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.