During this time of “shelter in place” as an adult you may find that you are having a harder time keeping your emotions under control. You are not alone in this experience; stress often leads to emotional dysregulation taking the form of a tantrum because one’s coping strategies are being overwhelmed. Here’s why:
This is my favorite metaphor for how emotional regulation and coping happens, which I first heard from Stephen Finn, Ph.D.:
If you think of your emotional capacity as a teacup and your emotional support people as the saucer, you are born with a thimble sized teacup and (hopefully) have a really big saucer of caregivers to help you as your thimble will get full very fast and spill over into your saucer. As you grow and learn more coping strategies, your cup size grows, so it spills over into your saucer less often.
Many of us adults are facing stressors due to COVID-19 that are overwhelming our coping strategies leading to our cups spilling over. Our teacup is not yet big enough for what we are dealing with, so we are growing it. Recovering from tantrums grows your teacup.
If you are experiencing tantrums, you need to:
Your emotional capacity is growing during this time. Growth can be painful and does not happen quickly. You may be in a home with a lot of other people who are growing too. Keep being each other’s saucers!