Four R’s for ESP Parents – Self Care


ESP (Emotional Social Parenting)

ESP is how you connect to your child on a deep loving level.  What you need to remember is that it’s all about the love we have for our kids, the love we give to our kids, and the love we teach them to give to others.  A consistent, unconditional love that is ever-present with them even when they aren’t with us.

What are the Four R’s for ESP parents?

If we want to be consistent in our unconditional love with our kids, first, we have to love and take care of ourselves.  The P in ESP is for us, the parents. 

These four R’s are Dr. Joanette’s suggestions for parents to help us maintain a healthy emotional balance within our lives.  7 and 8 are important numbers for ESP Parents.   Take 7- 8 deep breaths, get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, drink 7-8 glasses of water a day, and engage in 70-80 minutes of self-care a week. 


Take 7-8 Deep Breaths and Slowly Blow Them Out and Repeat a Mantra. 

You’re having a rough day, your toddler just had her third meltdown of the day, and it’s only 1 o’clock. 

Kids struggle with their big feelings and emotions; the result is they have frequent tantrums or periods of dysregulation.  When your child is dysregulated, it’s developmentally normal. They are learning to understand their big emotions – the uncomfortable feelings and sensations in their bodies. It doesn’t mean anything about who you are as a parent.  

When our child is dysregulated what she needs is a parent or caregiver to provide a calm safe container for her dysregulation. When we surround our child with our calm, our dysregulated child absorbs the calm energy of our regulation.  This let us help her regulation her big emotions. This process is called co-regulation.  Co-regulation eventually helping her learn by our example to self-regulate her feelings.  

I get it; this is challenging and may take years before your child is able to fully self-regulate.  This is partially because you child will be about 25 years old before the part of your child’s brain that is responsible for emotional self-regulation fully develops.  

Sometimes the hardest part of surviving your child’s emotional meltdown is staying calm enough to be that calm container for their emotional volcano. Something I’ve found helpful when my grandkids are dysregulated and it is chaos.  I put one hand on my belly and one hand over my heart.  It’s feels like a gentle hug and reminds me, I’ve got this. That gentle self hug releases more oxytocin, the love chemical, than just placing one hand on your heart

Next I take a deep breath and slowly blow out as if I’m blowing through a straw.  This is also known as hot cocoa breath.   I repeat to myself a short mantra, depending on the circumstances.  As a parent, you can repeat some form of this mantra to yourself.   I am a good parent; my child is a good child; we can get through this. Repeat it our loud, your child won’t acknowledge that they hear you. However, the calm soothing tone of your voice will seep into their dysregulation.   Another mantra I use is:  There is nothing wrong with me; there is nothing wrong with my grandkid; I can cope with this.  

Connect the Neurons:  Dysregulation leads to co-regulation leads to self-regulation. 


Get 7 – 8 Hours of Sleep a Night. 

Sleep is essential to staying healthy.  While we sleep, our brains and body are busy and active.  Our brains may not function properly when we don’t get enough sleep.  Our brain removes toxins that have built up while we are awake.  Our body renews and repairs itself.  If our brain doesn’t have enough time while we sleep to do what it needs to do to keep it and us healthy, memory, concentration, and our ability to think clearly may be affected.  When we have a night of adequate sleep, we awake feeling refreshed, alert, and ready for the day. 


Drink 7 – 8 Glasses of Water a Day. 

Our bodies are 60% water.  Our brains and heart are 76% water, and our lungs are 83% water.  We need water to stay healthy.  If we don’t take in enough water and become dehydrated, our brains don’t work so well, causing confusion and “fuzzy thinking.”  (not the same as warm fuzzies).  What else does water do?  Water also helps with temperature regulation; it helps keep our joints lubricated and helps eliminate toxins from our body—time to get another glass of water. 


Set aside 70 – 80 minutes a week for self-care.  Remember,  self-care isn’t aftercare.  Self-care shouldn’t happen after you have made time for everyone else all during the week, and now it’s the weekend, and you are finally getting time to make time for yourself.  Self-care is preventative.  You want to do self-care at the beginning of the week and during the week to give yourself some relaxation or downtime.  Recharge your batteries so you have the energy to make it through the week.

What does self-care look like for you?  Self-care can be different for each of us.  It can be yoga or mindfulness.  An exercise class at the gym.  A walk in the woods or just down the street.  An hour of your favorite TV show (in the middle of the day).  Or 30 minutes spent taking a nap.   

Whatever it looks like, take your calendar for next week and schedule some self-care for the beginning and the middle of the week.  This might feel tricky and strange because this self-care “brain muscle” isn’t used to having a workout at the beginning and the middle of the week.  However, you will learn to love the feeling if you keep exercising it.