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‘Co-regulation’ is the new parenting buzzword—here’s what it means and how to do it The increasing popularity of “gentle parenting” has launched a new buzzword into the child-rearing landscape: co-regulation. Co-regulation refers to an adult helping a child soothe their own emotions during a stressful incident. Let’s say a child has a meltdown at the supermarket. Instead of admonishing them, gentle parenting, also known as responsive parenting, calls for the caretaker to co-regulate, which means providing empathy and modeling calmness. Co-regulating with your child helps them learn how to handle their emotions as they grow up. And, according to child psychologists, kids who can better handle their emotions are more likely to be resilient and thrive in stressful environments. ‘[Kids] haven’t gotten the circuitry of self-regulation built yet’ Co-regulating, as opposed to scolding, meets a child where they are developmentally, Mona Delahooke, child psychologist and author of “Brain-Body Parenting: How to Stop Managing Behavior and Start Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids,” told CNBC Make It. “[Kids] haven’t gotten the circuitry of self-regulation built yet,” she says. “The ability to accept disappointment and unpredictability and talk yourself down, that’s a very long developmental process that most children don’t have until they are older.” If your child is throwing a fit about not being allowed to order dessert at a restaurant, it might look like they are being ungrateful or bratty. What is actually happening, though, is that they don’t have the skills to handle being let down yet. Unlike gentle parenting, authoritative parenting styles assume that a child misbehaving stems from a negative, self-aware place, Delahooke says. “Traditional parenting is agnostic of social-emotional development,” she says. How to co-regulate 1. Calm yourself down first. In order to help your child self-regulate, you have to do so yourself, Aliza Pressman, a developmental psychologist and co-founder of the Mount Sinai Parenting Center, told CNBC Make It. Pressman is the author of “The 5 Principles of Parenting: Your Essential Guide to Raising Good Humans.” Children “borrow our nervous system,” Pressman says. Whether you are, or are not, managing your behavior, your kids will follow your example. Before reacting to a frustrating situation, take a breath. Then, deliver a calm, measured response. “As long as [your children] are not being chased by a bear, you can pause and then decide how you want to respond,” Pressman says. “And in doing so you are exercising their self-regulation muscle.” 2. Approach your child with a calm tone. 2. Approach your child with a calm tone. Try not to raise your voice or look angry. Doing so often heightens emotions. “Instead of just walking away or admonishing them for their reaction, you take a few minutes to ‘co-regulate’ and through your voice, facial expression and emotions, show a gentle, caring approach,” Delahooke says. This could mean using a soothing tone or softening your facial expression to demonstrate your mood is stable. 3. Acknowledge your child’s emotions, then restate the boundary or rule. 3. Acknowledge your child’s emotions, then restate the boundary or rule. Recognizing and naming your child’s feelings with them can help them start to self-regulate. “When disappointment is compassionately witnessed and you are emotionally soothing, the child’s brain and body stress response is reduced,” Delahooke says. “An adult’s caring presence changes the way a child’s body and brain responds to stress. It reduces the stress hormones.” But remember, the goal of co-regulation is to soothe the child. This doesn’t mean giving into their demands. For example, you can say, “Dessert is really good and I understand why you want it, but we won’t be getting it tonight” or “I know waking up for school is hard and you’re tired, but you need to get out of bed.” Validate their emotions while keeping a firm boundary, Delahooke says: “You can have sturdiness, set boundaries and limits, and provide emotional safety at the same time.” Want to land your dream job in 2024?  Take  CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview  to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.