Angela Pruess on Helping Our Children Become Better at Self-Regulation

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​This week’s episode features a conversation with Angela Pruess, a licensed clinical therapist and mom of three who wants to help all parents raise emotionally healthy kids that will change the world, by explaining the he(art) and science behind our child’s development and emotional regulation.

Angela and I have been in touch since I first launched Tilt Parenting, so I’m really excited to finally be bringing her onto the show. She has many areas of expertise, but for this episode, we decided to focus specifically on the topic of that elusive thing so many of us are trying to help develop in our kids, but can be very difficult to know exactly where to start and what we should expect over our child’s developmental timeline—self-regulation and emotional regulation.

Today we dive deep into what it is, why it’s an important skill for our kids to develop, the different ways we as parents and caregivers and teachers can support our kids in nurturing these skills, and more. There are a lot of nuggets in this episode—I hope you get a lot out of it!


About Angela Pruess

Angela Pruess is a licensed clinical therapist and mom of 3 who wants to help you raise emotionally healthy kids that will change the world, by explaining the he(art) and science behind your child’s developmental and emotional needs at Parents With Confidence. She also writes about childhood mental health and the therapeutic power of play. With her help, you can better understand your child, help them meet their full potential, and LOVE the journey of parenthood.


Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • What self-regulation / emotional regulation actually is and what it can look like when kids struggle with it
  • Why self-regulation can be developed over time, even when the time line looks different
  • How we might expect development of self-regulation to progress at different ages for a differently wired child
  • Where parents should start when it comes to developing self-regulation abilities in their children
  • The importance of modelling self-regulation for our children
  • How we can best support teachers in being our partners in developing our kids’ self-regulation
  • How parents can most effectively do in supporting our kids in learning these skills
  • Strategies for what to do when children are resistant to working on self-regulation
  • Top tips for jump-starting our child’s self-regulation


Resources mentioned for children self-regulation


Click on the image below to learn more about UNDERSTOOD’s Summer Book Club (July / August 2018)


Episode Transcript

Angela Pruess  0:00  

Being able to separate our own emotional needs and baggage, so to speak, from our child’s needs and behaviors allows us to respond to them much more productively and effectively. So, overall, as parents, we’ll be able to guide our child with their own self-regulation much more effectively if we ourselves have done the work first.

Debbie Reber  0:24  

Welcome to the Tilt Parenting Podcast, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host Debbie Reber and this week, my guest is Angela Pruess, a licensed clinical therapist and mom of three who wants to help all of us raise emotionally healthy kids that will change the world by explaining the heart and science behind our child’s developmental and emotional needs. Angela is the woman behind Parents with Confidence, and she frequently writes about childhood mental health and the therapeutic power of play. Angela and I’ve been in touch since I first launched Tilt. So I’m really excited to finally be bringing her onto the show. She has a lot of areas of expertise. But for this episode, we decided to specifically focus on the topic of that elusive thing. So many of us are trying to help our kids, but it can be very difficult to know exactly how to do it and what we should expect over our child’s developmental timeline. I’m talking about self-regulation and emotional regulation. Today, we are going to dive deep into what these types of regulation are, why they’re an important skill for our kids to develop the different ways we as parents and caregivers and teachers can support our kids in nurturing these skills and more. There are a lot of good nuggets in this episode. So I really hope you get a lot out of it. And before I get to our episode, a reminder that I’m participating in a special book club with one of my favorite go to resources alongside Katherine Reynolds Lewis, who wrote The Good News About Bad Behavior, and Nicole Eredics, author of Inclusion in Action. The virtual book club includes exclusive interviews with the authors, a weekend wisdom chat for each book, and a continued conversation about the books with fellow parents and the understood community. The week of July 27, through August 3 is devoted to differently wired and that’s when I’ll be doing the weekend wisdom chat. That’s Sunday, July 29. To find out more visit understood inside track under the community events tab or look for a link on the show notes page for this episode at tilt. 117. Thank you so much. And now here is my conversation with Angela. Hey, Angela, welcome to the podcast.

Angela Pruess  2:46  

Hi, Debbie. Thanks so much for having me on.

Debbie Reber  2:49  

Yeah, you know, I was realizing I was going back through our correspondents. And I realized we talked pretty early on I think when I launched Tilt, and just trying to figure out how to get you on because you have expertise in so many areas that we cover. And I’m excited about the topic that we came up with today and talking about emotional regulation and self regulation. But before we get into that, please just take a minute and tell us about who you are and what you do and kind of your personal why.

Angela Pruess  3:21  

Sure. So my journey kind of started around 15 years ago when I started working as a child and family therapist with differently wired kids. And I always loved seeing the world through their unique perspective and seeing how these kids would find strength and resiliency in the face of adversity. And then about eight years ago, I had a little collision of work in life when we had our oldest daughter and I got to start walking this path of raising a unique differently wired kiddo. So our oldest daughter, who’s eight now has ADHD inattentive type. And our six year old is 2e. So she has ADHD combined type and is also gifted. And she also deals with anxiety and sensory processing challenges. So I really got to see how the experience of raising a unique kiddo could be so isolating and how there was so much space for more information, more awareness, more support, around know really hard issues that parents face when their kiddos are dealing with mental health challenges like, you know, aggressive kids in the classroom or the decision of whether or not to start medication. There were just so many things that I felt like, you know, parents just needed more support so I was inspired to start my website, which is parents with confidence as a way to reach more parents who are struggling on this path, in hopes of helping them to find confidence in the role of parenting, a more complex kid, and to also provide information to parents, with my background, as a counselor that allows their child to grow to their full potential, because I so deeply believe that every child deserves to reach their full potential. And although it’ll certainly be a more complicated path, to get them there, it is so worth it to unfold with these amazing outside the box kids who bring to the world with their awesome, unique gifts and viewpoint. So that’s, yeah, where I’m at today.

Debbie Reber  5:41  

That’s so interesting. You know, very few people I talked to who are doing the work of supporting differently wired kids got into this work before their children were born. And then you know, one would assume that you’re just, you know, you have these kids, and you’re like, awesome. I’ve got all the tools, no problem has, has it been like that for you?

Angela Pruess  6:02  

Oh, my goodness. Don’t get me started with that. Yes, right. I mean, on some, on some level, maybe we all are under that illusion that we are prepared and know what’s coming. And yeah, so probably to a greater extent, I was theoretically prepared and thought I knew what was coming. And holy cow. No, my kids were ready to grow me more than I was even prepared for at the time at all. So. So yeah, it’s been the best, you know, inspiration for self growth on my end. And I think that the experience has certainly helped, you know, me and my clinical work. And I think, honestly, has made me a pretty good parent too are certainly a different parent than I would have been for sure.

Debbie Reber  6:52

Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny, I, you know, I used to write books for teens, and I had done a series for Chicken Soup for the teenage soul. I was working on it when Asher was born. And I just remember thinking, Boy, man, when the teen years come, I am going to be so sad, like, I know, teens inside and out, and I’m just gonna rock that. And it’s, it’s really not happening. I’m just gonna say that is not what’s happening in my house right now. And I tried to, I tried to pass those books on to him, he could not have been less interested in those folks. So I’m like, okay, just gonna forget what I thought I knew and start from scratch here. But anyway, I wanted to shift the conversation to talking about this idea of regulation. And, you know, this is something we really haven’t done an episode about this. And I remember when I first even learned the words, emotional regulation, or dysregulation, and, you know, those became part of what therapists were talking to my husband and I about, and we knew it was important for Asher. But it was so new to me, you know, even the concept of it. So can you as a way to set us up for this explain what emotional or self-regulation is?

Angela Pruess  8:09  

Yes, certainly. So yeah, self-regulation is a big broad topic. So, for the purposes of our chat today, we’ll hone in on the emotional and behavioral aspects of self-regulation. So really, self regulation is the ability to manage your emotions and behavior in accordance with the demands of a situation. So it’s how our kiddos are able to inhibit their emotional or behavioral responses, and is a set of skills that allows them to direct their behavior or inhibit their impulses toward a goal. So making it till the end of the birthday party in order to get cake would be a small example. So research consistently shows that self regulation is necessary for social, emotional and academic success. And overall well being is one of the most, if not, you know, the most important skill for our child to develop in the early years. And, thankfully, you know, we humans have neuroplasticity, so we’re adaptable, our nervous systems are adaptable, and we’re able to improve our emotional self regulation over time. So this is a good promising thing for parents of differently wired kiddos. So with age and time that self regulation will naturally unfold even if many of our kids are delayed several years in that area. And much of self regulation is hardwired and part of our temperament. So kids with neurodevelopmental conditions like ADHD and anxiety will inherently struggle with self regulation, because their autonomic nervous systems are triggered too often due to anxiety, sensory processing issues, all of those types of things. So I’m sure I wouldn’t be saying anything surprising to parents listening, when talked about signs of struggle with self regulation, so meltdowns, out of control behaviors impulsivity, and physical and verbal aggression are all different symptoms and different things you would see in a kiddo that is struggling with emotional self regulation?

Debbie Reber  10:23  

Well, I want to talk about the ages and what to expect, because I will say that, you know, this was a huge issue for us when Asher was younger, because obviously, this is where emotional dysregulation creates a ton of problems in school. And he was a child who really got dysregulated a lot in school, especially, I mean, at home, sure, but at school, it’s so disruptive. And I just remember thinking, How is this little human ever going to get to a point where he could catch himself and notice this is what’s happening and make a different choice. I was like, the most adults, I know, don’t know how to do that. And it seemed like such a long road to me. And I will say we’re not at the other end of it completely, either. But it seems so daunting, like, is this really possible for a little differently wired human to be able to develop these skills? So I’m wondering if you can tell us what it looks like? Like, how young can kids actually start to work on these and maybe I don’t know, if you have any example of someone you’ve worked with? Or just kind of what, what we could expect it to look like, at different ages?

Angela Pruess  11:35  

Sure, yeah. You know, I think, I think it is going to be so different for kids that are neurotypical and kids that are differently wired, because of the clear delays, there will be in these areas. But, you know, generally, they say that you can expect kiddos to start really internalizing some of these things and start to see some of the shifts in self regulation around kind of the late preschool years, early elementary years. So, you know, you start seeing those things unfolding and, you know, with every year and every year brings more growth of our prefrontal cortex and more ability to, to use our executive functions and use it and hone and develop all of those skills that go into self regulation. And with our kiddos, having the expectation that it really is going to be a much longer, much slower learning curve is only going to help parents because, you know, as far as an example goes, it’s been very interesting to see in our own family, you know, two kiddos, who are differently wired, and our youngest, who is now three is a neurotypical. And he, in many instances, Debbie can regulate himself better than his older sisters. It quite honestly kind of blows my husband and I away, because you can just see it, you know, you can just see these inherent challenges that our girls have, you know, in any, in any situation, you know, they’re moving through through their day, and just have to overcome so many more challenges when it comes to regulating their emotions and impulse control, and all of these things, so really, you know, we still need to closely support them with their and we’ll talk a little bit more about this kind of the concept of co-regulation, but we really closely support them with their big feelings and help them navigate through regulating themselves. Whereas it takes much less to guide and help our three year old navigate those things, he is really able with minimal redirection, and minimal support, he’s able to kind of get back on the right track without getting so emotionally heightened. So you know, the feelings don’t get quite as intense, and then they also subside quicker as well. So he’s really able to transition in and out of the motions much easier. And we’re really giving our girls quite a bit of support. And I think the general guideline, at least I know off the top of my head for ADHD is about there was three to four year developmental delay when it comes to some of these skills and every kid is so different and you know, then we factor in all the other developmental stages and you know, the brain growth that just typically happens along the path of development and an every kiddo is so different. So it’s hard to say but I think overall really having the expectation that it is going to be a long path and that one that you know you will be very involved in and that your child will eventually get there, but it will take time

Debbie Reber  15:03

Well even just hearing that is so helpful that your child will eventually get there. Because I think, especially when our child is exhibiting pretty big behavior, and, you know, we’re not knowing how to handle it. And it seems like it’s taking a long time, you know, and lots of consistent messaging and things like that. It does often feel like this is never going to happen. Like, this is just the way and then you know, we start spiraling and thinking about what’s this gonna look like, in college? What’s this gonna look like, at a job? So it’s just even hearing you say that they will get there. It’s just on a delayed timeline and it feels really good. Actually, it feels comforting and, and optimistic. And I like that. Yes, yes. So, you know, I imagine this is an issue for many parents listening right now with their kids. And so where do you recommend that parents start in terms of get, you know, supporting our kids and developing their self-regulation strategies? Or abilities?

Angela Pruess  16:10  

Yes, so square one, if we want to see our child improve regulation of their emotions and behaviors, is actually what’s modeled for them in their environment. So I often catch parents off guard with this one. And you know, usually our first instinct is to try to look to the child, right? We, our instinct is to control and manage as humans, I think, and as parents, and culturally so, you know, when in fact, you know, we’re looking to our child, and what can we change about them? And how can we fix them, so to speak, when you know, the reality is, is that us as parents are often not modeling great self regulatory behaviors? So what does this mean? Really, that, you know, parents need to do the hard work of discovering their own triggers, and how to work through them productively, our kids are just so typically very sensitive, and really in tune with our energy with their parents emotions. So having a calm and steady presence really is going to help immensely to lower the child’s anxiety during their emotional storms, as they see that their parent is the study emotional presence available to them. So a great place to start is, you know, looking at, you know, what really bugs us, what triggers us the most with our child’s behaviors and reflecting on, you know, why that is, you know, what about me in the way that I am in the way that I’m wired? Or the way that I was raised, my background? What all goes into that? And why is this taking me to a heightened place emotionally? And then how am I reacting to that? Is it in a helpful way, sit in a productive way, that’s teaching my child, you know, what I want to see in them or not? So because this is not a case of, you know, do as I say, not as I do, I mean, we really have to, which I think you probably know, you know, these kids push us to, to manifest the things, the concepts, the things that we’re trying to teach them and the the behaviors and things that we’d like to see in them. They’re saying, you know, that’s not going to fly, you know, you we need to live this and I need to see you doing this and they’ll call you out, you know, on your hypocrisy and a hot second if, if you’re not practicing what you preach. So, you know, this is where a lot of mindset shifting can come in, when parenting a differently wired kiddo, because being able to separate our own emotional needs and baggage, so to speak from our child’s needs and behaviors, allows us to respond to them much more productively and effectively. So, overall, as parents, we’ll be able to guide our child with their own self-regulation much more effectively, if we ourselves have done the work first, basically.

Debbie Reber  19:15  

Yeah, I will say that I did not have a coping strategy or routine until about five years ago, and when my child was nine years old, and I was like, okay, it’s time for me here in my early 40s to develop a coping strategy that I can use in difficult moments I can model for him but really, I needed it myself. And it is I love what you’re talking about. That’s actually I have a chapter in Differently Wired that’s called recognizing how your energy affects your child. And that is such a piece of it is like uncovering our own like, why is this triggering us? I think it’s important to go there, you know, not just some kind of surface level white knuckle parent, fake model, but actually We go to that place and figure out what’s going on here. So the energy around the way we’re responding is genuine.

Angela Pruess  20:08

Yes, yes. Because they know, they can sniff out if you’re genuine or not in an instant, which is so frustrating. So, so, but so great to,

Debbie Reber  20:19  

There’s so perceptive those differently wired kids. So let’s see, I wanted to ask about in schools, because this was something that we have the stuff happening at home. And then there are many differently wired kids who can keep it together in school, you know, and who kind of unleash everything on their parents. And I know that that’s really difficult. But then there are kids who can’t, you know, who can’t regulate at school. And when Asher was in school, I found I was doing a lot of, quote, unquote, training, you know, trying to support teachers and understanding what was going on with his regulation, how to support him in regulating and in difficult moments in certain situations. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on how we can best support teachers in being our partners in supporting our kids? Development of self-regulation?

Angela Pruess  21:14  

Yeah, you know, definitely something that that we’re navigating right now with our own kids, I think there has been a lot of progress, you know, I were lucky to go, we actually ended up switching schools, from a private school to a public school, so that we could get good social emotional learning and good supports and special education. So we’re fortunate that we go to school that has been very receptive and very much ahead of the game. So more and more, you know, kids that come into my office are telling me, you know, when I’m bringing up something like emotional intelligence, or whatever it might be, they’re saying, oh, yeah, you know, I know that we learned that from from guidance or guidance counselor, which I always do a little bit of a cartwheel over, because it’s so exciting that finally, these things that research has indicated for years are so important in our being incorporated in schools. And I know, it’s a long process, but good to see those changes. So I think, yeah, I think partnering with schools and with the teachers and, you know, same same kind of approaches with our kids, right, we don’t want an adversarial energy, we want it to be, you know, assume that they have our kids best interests in mind. Assume that they’re doing you know, the teachers are doing the best they can with what they have to bring in Ross Greene, as I know, many of us are all Ross Greene groupies that are listening. So. So yeah, assuming that, that, you know, they’re doing the best they can and that they want to learn and that they’re open to that. And then trying to take a respectful stance with it. You know, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of this, but this has really helped us at home, that’s one that I use a lot, you know, just this has really helped us because I want to help the teachers too. Because the reality is, you know, I love being one-on-one with kids. It’s amazing. But I’ve also tried to run small groups and try to run my daughter’s Girl Scout meetings, and it is a different dynamic managing a classroom. So I try to empathize and think about, you know, what are what’s going on the classroom that I might not understand, and how can I kind of meet them halfway, and having realistic expectations, but also, you know, expecting that they are going to meet my child’s different needs, even though it will take more time, and it will take more energy, but hey, I’ll help you with that. I’ll meet you 80% of the way, if you’ll let me and I’ll, you know, I’ll give you the information on what we see at home and what she responds best to at home, and the resources that have been effective for us. And many of them that I brought in, you know, the guidance has said, you know, yep, we’re on top of it. And they have started to take this collaborative problem solving, you know, trainings, they’re starting with that. So I think it’s slowly permeating in schools over here in the US. So that is a wonderful thing. For sure. Yeah, that’s exciting.

Debbie Reber  24:09  

So I’m wondering, you know, when I think of emotional and self-regulation, I definitely think about coping routines. You know, as I talked about earlier, that was something that we worked hard to develop here in our family and support Asher and developing his is that, is that part of the work that you do with families? And do you see that as a part of kind of in the moment regulation?

Angela Pruess  24:34

Yeah, so really, as far as you know, parents most effectively supporting their child and learning these skills. There’s a couple parts of the answer and the calming and calming tools and techniques is certainly a part of that puzzle. But overall, you know, thinking of it, as we mentioned before, a co regulation journey, almost with the child so because their child is not yet able to To regulate their emotions and behaviors, we can step in as parents and take an active role in navigating the space with them, or by, you know, co-regulating with them. And really, this is done in an environment where the child feels unconditionally safe and accepted, which goes back to the parent work that we discussed earlier, you know, that really a grounded person that they can feel safe with in order to explore different calming strategies and tools with the idea is, you know, pretty counterintuitive, because many of us are prone to moving away from our child when they are struggling, and when we’re reacting and when we’re triggered. That is, you know, what the response that many of us have. But when we do that work, and we figure out what’s going on internally with ourselves, you know, that then hopefully frees us up to be able to move toward them. So step one would be empowering the child with knowledge. So in my practice, I use the hand model from Dan Siegel, which I’m sure many parents are familiar with, which just does such a great job of breaking down the neuroscience of their emotions in a simple way, by looking at you know, the upstairs thinking brain, the downstairs emotional brain, and how our thinking brain goes offline when our emotions are running high. And because our differently wired kids will be more likely to flip their lid and it will be flipping more often their thinking brains will be going offline, more often more frequently. It’s so important to normalize this for them, as well as empower them to take action before they get to this point. So I usually start by talking with kids about their anger, warning signals or their emotions’ warning signals. So how do our emotions manifest in our body? Do your palms get sweaty? Do you notice your thoughts racing? Helping, you know, helping them notice the physiological signs of their emotions is a great, concrete way to promote self awareness and self-regulation. So the second part is kind of a three part three part answer. The second part, I would say, is laying the groundwork for emotional intelligence basics. So you know, before we can get to the calming tools and techniques, we really need to have a strong framework for recognizing, understanding and managing our emotions. So firstly, we need to make sure our child has a big emotional vocabulary, because identifying emotions is the first step to working through them. So teaching kids that there are lots of different emotions, and labels and giving them a wide emotional vocabulary allows them to take the first step really, and work through them. And this teaching is best done, like any teaching, when, when our child is calm and regulated, of course, but also is something that you know, is good to be reminded of, because I know we found ourselves trying to teach this stuff to our kids, when they were super emotionally, just not not able to mid-meltdown, right mid-tantrum, not able to process and not able to remember, so definitely needs to be done consistently and optimally, and the child is calm. So visuals is a fantastic way to do this. Which is why I created an emotional intelligence bundle for parents that has emotions, flashcards, and some other visuals and guides to keep around the house. So you can kind of grab it and just do it in you know, minutes here and there throughout the day, and kind of do it all together as a family, then the next step after being able to identify the emotion is to guide them in expressing the feelings in a healthy productive way. So again, the child will likely need the parents to be closely involved in helping to try out different methods of calming, because every child’s nervous system and sensory system is so unique. You know, as we talked about before, it’s not going to be a straight path, it’s realistic to expect a lot of trial and error. And to expect that, you know, these things change over time. Parents say all the time, you know, well, that doesn’t work anymore. And I felt that too, and it certainly is frustrating. And I just tell him Yep, you know, it’s part of the deal. Like you just gotta roll with it and we move on to what’s working right now for them. So it’s definitely an evolving and evolving thing. So looking at you know, is there what spaces does your child respond to best? Do they seem to calm with physical touch or does it appear to agitate them? Do they prefer, you know, talking? Some kids like to verbalize. I don’t know what that’s like because my kids do not at all. All in any sign of verbalization is going to be met with a not pleasant response. So, so for them, you know, noise is very overstimulating to them, which is pretty typical. So, you know, it’s an ongoing journey and having the expectation that it will take our differently wired kids a lot longer is really only going to help. So, you know, along the avenue of calming techniques, that takes us to the third part, which you know, in itself, can be a calming technique, if that works for the child in the moment. Otherwise, as a consistent practice, mindfulness and breathing practice is just huge. Because you know, our bodies and our minds are inextricably linked. So some very simple things parents can do to help give self regulation a boost. Before we jump into mindfulness here, along the same vein, is to keep consistent routines, meals, bedtimes, just those simple things will help train a young child to self regulate. And then you know, the research on breathing and on mindfulness is just crazy, and how we can really soothe and calm our nervous system. So I usually teach you know, there’s a lot of resources out there on how to take a good quality breath, I teach my kiddos, you know how a really impactful breath will engage, engage their whole body and sitting up and opening their diaphragm. And it’s pretty cool to teach them the why behind it too. So to teach them, you know, when they breathe in, your diaphragm expands, and it actually presses on a little nerve in your spine, called the vagus nerve, which sends calming signals to your nervous system into your brain. So it’s actually the quickest way physiologically to calm the system is to take a really good, a good breath. And just incorporating different mindfulness practices into the day, I have an article on parents with confidence about simple fun mindfulness practices. There’s so much research on mindfulness and the ability to regulate our emotions and behaviors by strengthening our friend brain that thinking brain. So you know, really, the power of mindfulness is how it can supercharge essentially, our prefrontal cortex, because it helps our kids to by slowing down and turning inward, focusing on breath, focusing on sight sounds, all of the senses and kind of grounding into that even for a few seconds or a few minutes, helps them make a small shift from their emotion brain, to their thinking brain, which is essentially, you know, kind of those neural pathways that we want to, we want to grease we want to get them used to being able to make that those cognitive shifts. So, yeah, mindfulness is just a small way to practice that consistently, and help them to be able to tune into their, their thinking brain. Yeah, so that’s kind of how it’s my long answer on how I would sum it up.

Debbie Reber  33:11

Great. Thank you so much for laying all that out for us. And I want to be conscious of the time. So I have a couple of quick questions that I just want to ask. So one is I just want to ask, What if kids are resistant to, for example, trying mindfulness or trying some of these strategies, you know, especially as kids get older, they may be less inclined to, you know, to try to do some of these things. They might think, no, I don’t need to do that. Or, you know, do you have any language around that? Or ideas about that?

Angela Pruess  33:41  

Yes, for sure. Which is why I think my article on parents with confidence is something along the lines of mindfulness activities your kid will actually want to do. So yeah, you know, I think, I think one great way is, is outside support. So we’ve, we’ve confronted this ourselves, right? I mean, there’s only so much and that our kids are going to hear from us and then at some point, you know, there will be somebody else better to better to fill that role and better to be be the educator and kind of be a mentor in that way. So whether it’s, you know, guidance at school, or, you know, a counselor, a therapist, any social worker, whoever the support professional is that you can loop in, that is a great way when kiddos are resistant to doing it at home. Otherwise, you know, their kids are curious, awesome, bright kids. So fun, you know, ways to make it I sat down in the beginning and, you know, this is how you know, with my inside the box methods, this is how we’re going to learn about this today and you’re gonna sit down and listen and it’s like, yeah, right, that did not last for more than five minutes, right? So finding creative ways to do it in fun ways. They of course like to be in control as we all do, right? So letting them you know, teach the skills, letting them Um, read it, you know, there’s so there’s, thankfully, so many awesome resources out there now, you know, coloring pages and all sorts of different mindfulness things that kids can do on their own, that are that are fun and just meeting them. where they’re at, I would say is, is the biggest thing, you know, what is your kid? Like? What are their interests? And just meeting them right there and trying to, to engage? So yeah, it definitely takes a little more energy and effort from us. But definitely, from what we know, you know, on the research of self regulation, and you know, the role that these skills will play ongoing throughout their lives, it’s definitely worth the investment and trying to figure out what vehicle best, you know, we’ll we’ll get these things across to them.

Debbie Reber  35:46  

Yeah, yeah. And I love that you said earlier that, you know, things will work, and then they’ll stop working. I mean, that’s the case with, I think, with any parent of any child. And I just think, for us, between regressions and you know, the way our kids change can feel really sudden, and completely throw us off track. So just knowing that change is part of what’s going on. And then you just shift, you pivot, and you try something else. And that’s just part of it. Yes. So before we go, if you could just share where the best places for people to connect with you. So I mean, you’ve mentioned some great resources, and I will make sure all the links are in the show notes page. But where can people find you? And is there any other amazing resource that people listening need to know about? Sure, yes.

Angela Pruess  36:29  

So a couple other self-regulation resources, a framework that I use at home that we use at home, actually, we have an entire wall dedicated to it at home, as well as at work is the zones of regulation, which are used in a lot of schools too. But it’s a really great self-regulation framework that just simplifies things into concrete ways that kids can process it much quicker, so that they can kind of internalize it and just, instead of having to verbalize so much, they go with colors. So there’s green zone, yellow zone, that type of thing. So that is a great thing. If people wanted to look that up. I want to mention that family board games are also a fantastic way to work on self-regulation, turn-taking rules, inhibiting impulses, controlling emotions, when you lose, you know, all of those types of things. So that’s just a simple, everyday way. And there’s a great article on games to help boost self-regulation skills over at Inspired Tree House as well that I like to pull from, and then Breathe Kids is really fantastic. It’s my favorite app that I found. And I’ve tried a lot of them. And I recommend to to clients. And we use it as well. Just simple, probably for elementary aged, probably, I don’t know if trying to think like middle school age is pushing it a little bit. But a fantastic way to incorporate, you know, fun and creativity with mindfulness and its screen. So our kids think that’s a win for them too, of course, right. So those are some things for self-regulation. As far as finding me, I am my website. Again, I’m Angela Pruess and my website is Parents with Confidence. So people can find me on our Facebook page with Parents with Confidence. And I also recently started a new Facebook page just for parents of differently wired kiddos called Children’s Mental Health Rocks. So that will be me, leading the page and providing lots of resources from all different amazing voices, and my writing from parents with confidence as well, so they can find me on either one of those Facebook pages.

Debbie Reber  38:39  

That’s great. And thank you for sharing those resources. You’re talking about games just reminded me of when playing connect as a family was our homework for like six months just to practice losing? Yeah, gracefully. We’ve made a lot of progress. And then but uh, that game night used to be my worst nightmare. I will just say, and I still went Asher like let’s do a game night. I’m still like, Huh, okay. Anyway, thank you again, for those resources. Again, listeners, I’ll share all of them in the show notes. So you can just go on the Tilt Parenting website and get access to all of that. And Angela, I know you’ve got to go pick up your kiddos. So I’m gonna say goodbye. And thank you so much. This is such an insightful conversation and I really appreciate you sharing it with us today.

Angela Pruess  39:26  

Oh, of course, Debbie. I am so honored to be on the podcast and love it so much. And I’m such a huge fan of your work. So thank you so much for having me.

Debbie Reber  39:38  

You’ve been listening to the Tilt Parenting podcast for the show notes for this episode, including links to Angela’s website parents with confidence and all of the resources we discussed and there were a lot of them in this episode. Visit If you like what we’re doing at the tilt parenting podcast and you’d like to support us there are a few easy and meaningful ways you can do this one is to join my Patreon campaign. Patreon is an online platform that allows people to make a small monthly contribution to support the work of an artist or a musician, or in my case, a podcaster. It’s super easy to sign up and even a small donation helps. The Patreon account is how I am paying for my editor Donna right now and it is such a tremendous help. So thank you to all the Patreon supporters already participating in the campaign. If you would like to join those supporters, visit You can also find a link on the Tilt Parenting website. The other way you can help is to head over to iTunes and leave a rating or review or both if you haven’t done so already. There are a lot of parents and podcasts out there and these ratings and reviews help keep our podcasts highly visible, which in turn makes it easier for me when I send those emails to authors and other thought leaders asking them to guest on the show. So thank you so much. And thanks again for listening. For more information on Tilt Parenting visit


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