How to Learn Emotional Regulation as a Parent with Dr. Jorina Elbers [Episode #795]
This week’s topic is: How to Learn Emotional Regulation as a Parent with Dr. Jorina Elbers
I am so excited to have my very special guest, Jorina Elbers,the creator of “HeartMath for Parents”, an innovative online learning program with science-backed tools to help parents deal with today’s challenging issues. Listen in as Jorina shares how stress is carried in the body, what happens to the brain when under stress or overwhelm, tools to help parents, and so much more.
Quick background about Jorina’s work…
When your child is having a lot of stress and/or attention issues…
Stress dysregulation and where it’s stored in the body…
What happens to the brain when it is overwhelmed…
How to move forward from guilt as a mom…
At what age are children receptive to the tools in releasing trauma…
Tools to help parents of teenagers…
About Jorina Elbers
Dr. Jorina Elbers is a pediatric neurologist and researcher with expertise in chronic stress and trauma. She was recently an assistant professor at Stanford University and is currently the program director for the Trauma Recovery Project at the HeartMath Institute, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. She has published over 25 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters and created trauma-sensitive programs for health practitioners, first responders, refugees, and parents.
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Kimberly: 00:00 Hello, loves and welcome back to our Monday interview show. I am so excited to share a very special guest with you today. Her name is Dr. Jorina Elbers. She is a distinguished pediatric neurologist specializing in childhood stress, and she has created an amazing parenting program in conjunction with the prestigious HeartMath Institute. So there’s a lot I can say here, <laugh>. We’re gonna get into it in the show today. But first of all, HeartMath Institute has studied the coherence of our heart and our brain. It’s published hundreds of scientific papers, and Dr. Jorina Elbers brings her experience as a mom, as a doctor. She originally found heart math because she was seeing so many different symptoms with her patients, with these children, with behavioral issues and how it was creating havoc and families. And so this parenting course, which I started to delve into myself, is so unique because it’s for helping parents regulate themselves and then learn to regulate their children, our children in the moment.
01:20 So it’s these tools, it’s practical, it’s grounded in all this incredible research and science. It’s accessible. So I’m really excited to share it with you all. And whether you’re a parent or you have a friend who is a parent in your life, or you would like to be a parent one day, and even if none of these apply to you, but you’re interested in regulating yourself with moment to moment tools, this show is going to really resonate with you.
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02:19 It’s all amazing. While you’re over there, please remember to subscribe to our show as an act of self-love, self-care. You don’t have to think. You stay in the flow with these amazing interviews and also our Thursday q and a shows. And while you’re over there, you can also share the show with anyone you think would benefit. Our community is founded on sharing and connection, so anytime there’s something that you think would help others, I always encourage sharing.
Kimberly: 02:58 Finally, a little reminder that with summer here, with the peak of the light summer solstice, it’s an amazing time to try our three day waterfall cleanse, which involves guided meditations and journaling prompts to help you re-clarify your purpose as well as a whole plan with juice smoothie elixir recipes, there’s rawness, there is Ayurvedic principles at play, our sauna, digestive focused enzymes stretch video and more. This is about, again, just getting really clear and removing shedding layers of bloat and heaviness, stagnation so you can really go forward into the light in your highest potential. All right, all that being said, let’s get into our interview today with the amazing Dr. Jorina Elbers.
Interview with Jorina Elbers
Kimberly: 01:02 Well, Jorina, thank you so much for coming on the show today. When we met, we had this instant connection. We’re both moms, we’re both really passionate. We both wanna help the world providing tools and resources, and anything that’s helped us out into the greater space. So, first of all, thank you so much for making time to come on our show.
Jorina: 01:22 Aw. Well, thank you so much, Kimberly. It’s, uh, it’s a pleasure to be here and I’m, and I’m really excited to chat with you.
Kimberly: 01:28 Yeah. So we met organically. We were up, or I was up at Heart Math, um, a week ago. I think. Time seems like a funny thing sometimes. And I was up there, I had connected with Rawlin McCrady, who’s also been on our podcast, the Chief Research, um, scientist, whatever his title is at Heart Math, who’s published hundreds of papers. And so we’re actually doing a study together. We’re, I’m very excited about that on our heart-based meditations. And then I learned about this amazing parenting course that I know you have headed up Rina. So I’m really excited to dive into that, because as you and I talked about, there just aren’t that many resources for parents these days. There’s a lot of struggle, there’s a lot of overwhelm, especially since covid, a lot has fallen on parents with the whole mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, homeschooling and work and everything. So I’m very excited to share about the, these incredible tools, which I’ve started to dive into myself. But before we go there, Rina, can you give a little bit of a background? You’re neurologist, I know you were at Stanford. Can you give us a quick background about your, you know, uh, overview of your work?
Quick background about Jorina’s work
Jorina: 02:39 Yeah, no, happy to. Um, well, so I, I started, I’m actually a Canadian. Um, I, I trained at the University of Toronto in pediatric neurology, and then started working at Stanford, um, as a pediatric stroke specialist. And then I was also seeing kids in my general neurology clinic. And, um, you know, outside of stroke, I was seeing just a lot of headaches and abdominal pain and, um, you know, strange neurological symptoms that didn’t really have, you know, an abnormal mri, the brain or, um, any sort of real focus that we could identify on any of our testing. And so, you know, there’s just so many of these kids and I started getting really interested in stress and trauma and, you know, why are, why do we have all of these different symptoms and we don’t really have a good explanation for it. Um, and so I started looking into the physiology of stress and trauma, and then also looking for other ways of treating these kids and these families because, you know, there was very little I, I could be doing, um, other than putting on antidepressant medication, right.
03:54 Or an anti-convulsant, or, you know, it was all pharmacological. And I just found, you know, I found it really depleting and, you know, these families were coming in really struggling. And, you know, I remember one particular mom, she started to sort of break down in my clinic and she said, you know, I just don’t know if w I’m ever we’re gonna be happy again. Wow. Wow. And, and she just talked about like the daily grind, you know, the, you know, getting the kids off to school and the stress around that and coming home and the homework and the soccer and the dance, and, um, you know, the, and then, you know, having sounds exhausting. Oh my goodness. Just hearing it. It’s true. Well, and you know, if, if we actually add together the hours that our children are in school and the hours that they’re in, some sort of structured activity, even though it might be a physical activity, but it’s something they have to listen and, and, you know, pay attention and have an adult who’s telling them what to do and follow the rules.
05:00 Right. And you add that up and then you add in their homework. I mean, we have kids working 12 hour plus days, right? Yeah. And so I, you know, I really, I started to look, I started to look elsewhere. What else can I do to help these families? And I found heart math. Mm. And you know, HeartMath is such a unique, uh, set of tools. Um, and there’s some technology that, you know, you can do heart rate variability, biofeedback, but the tools were so simple and I could teach them right there. And then, like with the kids right in front of me, I could teach them to the parents. And, um, you know, connecting to the heart and connecting to the breath and the kids, they just took to it really easily. Um, you know, some of the adolescents had a bit of a harder time, you know, they’re looking at me like, really, I’m gonna connect to my heart mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But, um, you know, and, and the parents really, they, they really appreciated having an, an alternative to, to this, you know, what, what else? You know, what else I had to offer them, which was really even inadequate.
Kimberly: 06:14 So, Joanna, in your clinic, were people coming to you say the everyday mom saying, Hey, there’s a lot of stress, or my child is exhibiting attention issues? Or was it, did you say it was something that was actually showing up in the scans? Or was it more behavioral?
When your child is having a lot of stress and/or attention issues
Jorina: 06:30 Well, as a neurologist, I would see the, you know, physical symptoms. So the psychia psychiatry generally sees the behavioral, um, you know, the outbursts or the depression, the mood. Mm. You know, but I would see the physical symptoms, so abdo, chronic abdominal pain that they’ve seen gi the GI symptom. Got it. And they, there’s nothing, you know, it’s, everything is normal. So they get sent to neurology. And then it’s really funny because we have these really fancy names, abdominal migraine <laugh>. So this is like pain in the abdomen that is, you know, doesn’t have a, you know, a GI problem associated with it. They’re not, you know, they might have a little constipation, but, you know, really it’s, it’s chronic pain. Um, and so we call it something fancy, you know, if you’re dizzy, you know, that would be another common symptom. It’s vestibular migraine. So we end up with all these sort of descriptive terms in medicine Yes. That don’t actually help you understand what’s happening physiologically, because what’s happening physiologically under the hood is your whole nervous system is dysregulated mm-hmm. <affirmative> and creating all of these symptoms because it’s trying to adjust all the time. You’re, you know, the nervous system is trying to adjust to the stress.
Kimberly: 07:49 Yes. Well, Rina, I don’t wanna go on too much of this tangent, but I know you also specialize in trauma, and there’s something about trauma being you, you mentioned the stomach, or, you know, some people can store trauma in other areas. Is that specific to each individual, each child, each parent, each person in general will feel symptoms in different places? Or do you see patterns of trauma where it tends to lodge in the body Hmm. Kinds of traumas? Of course.
Stress dysregulation and where it’s stored in the body
Jorina: 08:18 Yeah. That’s a, a great question. You know, I wish I could say we have some research, you know, that <laugh> that tells us, you know, the answer to your question, um, unfortunately trauma is one of the least studied facets in medicine. Um, and it’s one of the most common things that cause physical symptoms that, you know, wow, that’s been my experience. So, you know, to, to give you a brief answer, I I, I was seeing a lot of sort of dysregulation, right? Stress dysregulation. So that would be difficulty focusing, paying attention, you know, short-term memory. And then I would see dizziness or difficulty, uh, adjusting, um, from a sitting to a standing position or chronic fatigue. So the, the autonomic nervous system in the background isn’t able to sort of keep up with the stress, whatever’s happening. And then, you know, invariably digestive problems and constipation.
09:20 So re really what’s happening is like the whole nervous system is, it’s all over the place. Yeah. And it’s trying to balance itself out, but it’s not able to. And it’s creating all of these symptoms. But then of course, you can have other, you know, more complex sy symptoms of specific parts of the body where trauma has been stored. Yes. So when you hear stories about people doing yoga or people, you know, doing trauma therapy, where all of a sudden they feel, you know, things releasing or crying or, um, a lump in their throat, that then sort of moves through the body, right? You have all these, you know, so many people when they do trauma processing actually feel the energy moving through their body.
Kimberly: 10:04 Yes.
Jorina: 10:05 And why does that happen? I mean, I have, I have my ideas about that <laugh>, but I don’t have like any really good research to, to direct you to for that.
Kimberly: 10:16 Yes. Well, it’s interesting how that might accept intersect with some eastern philosophy. Traditional Chinese medicine talks about, oh, sadness is held in the gallbladder, I think, and anger in the liver. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So there’s some know the ancient ideas around energies and meridians and, and channels. But, you know, it’s interesting too, when you were speaking Jona and you started to list all these sy, you know, symptoms, and you know, when a child comes to you or someone was coming to you, it’s not just gonna be contained in this one box, right? This aspect of medicine, which is trying to overspecialize, and you are the neurologist and you are the psychiatrist, and you’re the gastroenterologist versus seeing, hey, there’s these intercepting symptoms here, there’s a whole person in front of me. Right? So it’s, you know, there, it’s, it’s interlinked versus just this specialized way of approach.
Jorina: 11:09 Well, you hit the nail on the head, um, Kimberly, and, and unfortunately medicine, we are so subspecialized and so compartmentalized, right? Mm-hmm. That these children that I would see, they would have, you know, they’d be seeing me. They’d have a GI specialist, they’d have a psychiatrist, they’d be seeing e n t, um, they would be seeing cardiology. Hmm. Right? And so I always knew when I was dealing with chronic stress or trauma, because someone had at least four, five subspecialists that were, they were seeing, and nobody, you know, everybody’s doing their little siloed piece.
Kimberly: 11:47 Right.
Jorina: 11:48 So that’s where I was like, there’s, it’s not siloed. Like we have to start looking at the whole picture and considering that they’re all related, and in fact they are all related because everything is connected in the body. It’s Roland, you know, McCrady, the director of research at HeartMath talks about it’s a system. Yes. And everything is working together. The brain is working with, the heart is working with the digestive system, is working with the skins, you know, and so just to silo it out and say, there’s a problem here, and not consider the rest of the picture, um, we are really doing a disservice, um, medically, and we’re really missing the boat. Have you seen that cartoon with the elephant? And, you know, you have all these people blindfolded and they’re holding a tail and they’re holding a husk and Right. And this is this and this is that. But really, you know, it’s an elephant. And that’s how I was feeling, you know, in my clinics, is that we were looking at stress or trauma, but each of these individual physicians was like having their specific diagnosis. Right. Psychiatry, my favorite is intermittent explosive disorder. Like, what is that? <laugh>?
Kimberly: 13:02 Right.
Jorina: 13:02 So my heart goes out to families and, and, and the, the children that I were seeing, I was seeing, because they weren’t really, weren’t getting answers, they weren’t getting better. Um, and nobody was really able to tell them what was going on.
Kimberly: 13:18 Yes. Wow. So it, it came from this real need that you saw within your clinic, within, I know you’re a mom too, Rina with two sons. So then you found heart math, which was, as we mentioned, has these incredible research papers, this incredible study around actually the heart is able to send message messages to the brain. And this really helps us to regulate our nervous system. Can you talk a little bit about, no, we won’t go too deep into the science because we wanna <laugh>, we could go, we could spread the whole podcast going down there, but sometimes, you know, we feel this frustration. We feel this overwhelmed parent or not, right? This overwhelm. Can you explain a little bit about what’s happening in our brain? Which part shuts down? Because there is a real physiology to overwhelm. And of course, in a child that could manifest as a tantrum, but as adults, we feel like, oh my gosh, I’m losing my mind. We feel like we’re not ourselves. So let’s talk about that before we get to some of the tools.
Jorina shares what happens to the brain when there is overwhelm
Jorina: 14:18 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Well, I think, I think the biggest thing that I, you know, was hit over the head with over and over again was that we have this idea that stress is psychological. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think that mental problem, it’s a mental process. And, um, I I, it was an uphill battle really to sort of get that through, you know, even my colleagues, that stress is a physiological process. So we know that. Right. When you’re embarrassed, what happens? You, your cheeks flush When you’re, um, when you’re activated and you feel right, you feel your hearts starting to beat in your chest. Yes. Or the stomach starts to Right. We feel it in our bodies. Um, and you know, Daniel Siegel, he’s a, a brilliant psychiatrist at ucla and an author, and, you know, he talks about this very helpful analogy of the, this brain. Have you, I don’t know if you’ve heard this, the triune brain.
15:14 So we have basically three parts to the brain. If you have your hand sort of up in your thumb across your palm, that the sort of palm of your hand and going down into your wrist is the, the sort of reptile brain. So this part of the brain is connected to all the automatic systems, right? The heart beating the lungs, the digestive system. And this is the automatic, right? This, we don’t have to think about having our heartbeat, it just happens. Right? Right. And so then we have our thumb across the palm, and this is our limbic brain, or our feeling brain. Right? This is what makes us mammals, what separates us from reptiles, and it gives us, um, our threat signal and tells us what’s familiar, what’s unfamiliar, what’s safe, what’s not safe. And it’s directly connected to our automatic autonomic nervous system. And then we have the cortex, which is our thinking brain.
16:15 So this is what makes us sort of humans, and it what allows us to keep a grocery list and plan out our day. And so the rational thinking brain is sort of sitting on top. And what happens when we’re stressed or activated is this thinking brain. We sort of flip our lid. That’s how, how Daniel Siegel describes it. So this part of our brain isn’t really connecting anymore. It’s not helping to keep everything in, you know, under wraps. And you know that we all right. We know that feeling, like saying something we didn’t mean, or doing something we shouldn’t have done. Right. Using your voice. That’s right. We’re like disinhibited, right. Because that frontal part of the brain is inhibiting all that behavior. So we flip our lid, and then all of a sudden everything is being driven by this feeling brain. And we know what that’s like.
17:05 Yes. Right? We’re driven by like the upset. We’re driven by the anger. We’re driven by, you know, shame or, or whatever the feeling is. And these can be extraordinarily intense. And this is what I really learned in working with all, you know, a lot of the kids that I worked with, kids have such intense emotions, many of them, and they don’t know what to do. And a lot of them end up flipping their lids. Right. And if our lid is flipped and we send them off to school, and we expect them to sit there for six hours and learn math, and learn reading and pay attention. Right. Though, all of those, um, behaviors are organized by this frontal cortex. So if we have kids who have been traumatized and we send them off to school, they aren’t learning. And Right. That’s, that’s the hard part. So, um, and then this, this emotional part of the brain is basically driving the heart rhythm and it’s driving the digestive system that’s driving, you know, our whole body. And so the key to being able to work with a child, to work with ourselves when we’re activated is to try to get this frontal lobe back online. Right.
Kimberly: 18:25 And is that, Rina, when you say the kids are traumatized, you mean not just in one isolated event, but you know, how they feel day to day or their moods? Or how does it relate to, Hey, my son feels pretty calm on Monday, but Thursday something mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, something happened, maybe he remembered an event or something happened the night before. So trauma, just, just to kind of make it a little bit, um, you know, the definition a little bit accessible during, it doesn’t have to be like, oh, I got in this car accident. Right. There’s many different layers of trauma.
Jorina: 18:58 Absolutely. Um, we kind of talk about like little Ty trauma and Big T trauma, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and these things. So, so stress is also an accumulation, right? Things add up over time. And so we kind of, I think many of us have that experience of, you know, we kind of take it, you know, the pile on right? Over time of Yes. You know, each thing that’s on our plate, getting that feeling of I’m starting to sink, I’m starting to get overwhelmed, right? It can do the same thing mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because the nervous system is kind of indiscriminate. It doesn’t, it’s not like, oh, this is trauma, I’m gonna do this. And Oh, this is, you know, acute stress. I mean, like, it responds to stress in the same way. Trauma is just basically stress, a chronic stress response in the body because you have an internal trigger that keeps getting activated because it wasn’t processed, an experience wasn’t processed properly.
20:00 So it’s a chronic activation of this whole stress response. So you can have, you know, you can have both of these things happen. Um, it’s, and so what ultimately ends up happening is your behavior and everything is being driven by your emotional brain, and that, you know, that’s driving everything. And so that’s when you start to see behaviors at school, um, because it’s driving the autonomic nervous system, the system that’s connected to your heart, and your breathing and your digestion. You start to see physical symptoms as well. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so, and because your frontal lobe is offline, this important part of our brain that’s responsible for attention and memory, we start to see attention problems, problems and problems with short-term memory. So this is what we’re talking about is the whole child.
Kimberly: 20:54 Yes. Not
Jorina: 20:55 Just adults.
Kimberly: 20:56 They’re just doing a pill on top, like you said, or, Hey, let’s take some Ritalin, or, you know, whatever the medications are, but hey, let’s have tools for getting the brain back online.
Jorina: 21:08 Exactly. Well, and you know, sometimes there is a place for medication, right? Sure, sure. You can’t get outta bed in the morning. I mean, some people really, you know, you really, it, it’s really, really helpful. Um, I’ve definitely seen people with attention problems that, you know, that Ritalin just made such a huge difference. But I, I think that on top of that, right, we can start to look at the whole person and be like, okay, so there’s sleep problems, attention problems, digestive problems, and some chronic pain. What’s happening here? Yes. And this is, this is, you know, we talk about wellness, right? I mean, that’s really the definition of, of not being well. And that’s what’s so frustrating for so many people. They go to the ho, the doctor, and they, you know, they list all of these, you know, they get their blood drawn, right?
21:58 Maybe they get an E C G or a a, an electrocardiogram. Maybe they get, you know, another test and they all come back normal. And the doctor says, you’re fine. Everything is normal. And the person’s like, but my world is falling apart. I can’t go to work. I can’t go to school. You know? Well, I’m sorry. Right? And so this is, this is why heart math for me has been such an important piece, because really what we’re doing is we’re with the HeartMath techniques, we’re bringing regulation, we’re bringing balance, we’re bringing the whole system back into alignment from this incredible misalignment. Mm-hmm.
Kimberly: 22:39 <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, this is amazing. Julianne, this fits in, um, here at SA Luna, we talk about the four cornerstones, food, body, emotional wellbeing, and spiritual growth. So, like you said, if you’re getting your body checked out and it’s like, huh, we don’t see anything here. And as we look to the diet, Hmm, maybe, you know, my child’s really reactive to sugar, they’re having way too much gluten, or whatever it is. That’s a little piece. The spiritual part, we talk about a lot here with meditation interconnection. So, you know, you’re not just this body, but then there’s this huge cornerstone where I find people are really searching for tools right now, which is emotional wellbeing, right? Because as you said, it affects your physiology, it affects your clarity, it affects your day, it affects your levels of peace. It affects your relationships. So what’s amazing, again, back to the parenting course, and I’ve started to dive into it.
23:31 I’m very excited about it. I very much like the format of videos, which I know people respond to. For me, I really like the written instruction. I really like the written word as an author and a reader of hard books. There’s component and then there’s audios. But what I really like Jamina, if you could dive into it, what’s unique about it is that it addresses how you regulate yourself as a parent, and then how you regulate your, your child, right? Because there’s so many parenting books out there that are like, oh, this happens and you’re supposed to do this, or This is how you’re supposed to do X, y, Z. But we need to wake up to the fact that communication is so, is nonverbal, right? There’s the tone, there’s the frequency, there’s the energy. So if we’re not regulated ourselves, and there’s nothing to feel guilty about here, because as we said, there’s so much, so much driving and cooking and fixing things and, and putting things together. Uh, but if we don’t address that piece, it doesn’t really create steady, sustainable regulation for the child and throughout the family.
Jorina: 24:38 Right. Right. Well, you know, thanks for, for that. I mean, you did a, a really lovely summary. Um, you know, I think I agree with you. Um, and, and as I started looking through different parenting courses and books and things, you know, I I, it was really clear that, you know, these are all great tools and techniques and ways of talking to your child, um, with, you know, active listening and, um, being, you know, really engaged and, and asking questions and asking them to name their feelings, right? Yes. Those are all really, really important. But it makes one assumption on the part of the parents, which is that you’re regulated <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that you’re, that part of your brain, um, is engaged and that you can, you know, access those tools in the moment when you need them. But, you know, as a parent, you know, even just as a person, I mean, we know that we’re not always regulated <laugh> Yeah.
25:40 Things happen throughout the day. And, um, as we say, you know, that stress builds up and when we’re stressed, we have a lower threshold for flipping our lid for that, that part of our rational brain, um, to get disengaged or offline. And so when that happens, um, we can’t access all those great tools that we learned about. Right. Exactly. And you can’t remember, what was I supposed to do again? Was I supposed to listen and then talk? Was I supposed to talk then? Listen? Was I, what, what emotion is this? Because I don’t even know how I feel <laugh>.
Kimberly: 26:18 Well then it’s like we get exhausted and depleted, and then the guilt comes in. I know if I get overwhelmed and I raise my voice, I get really, I feel really guilty. You know, Rina, it feels terrible.
Jorina: 26:31 Yeah. And so we can get activated in the moment by our child, um, saying something that hurts our feelings, that actually hits our wounding are deep mm-hmm. <affirmative> childhood wounds. I mean, that, that is a very common thing to happen. Um, and also often subconscious, like, why did I get so mad? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, you know, that that didn’t, you know, when it’s a disproportionate amount of anger, sometimes we can wonder, huh? Is this coming from Right? Yes. And so, so when we activate that wounding, that can happen. Um, or it’s something that we’ve told our kid a million times, or they’ve just broken the rule, or they’ve been, you know, they’ve done something that we’re not proud of, and we, you know, were upset at the fact that they would do something to hurt somebody else, you know, whatever it is. So, um, in order for us as parents to effectively parent, we have to start from a place of regulation.
27:37 And that’s where these HeartMath techniques are really golden. Um, because I do want to get to those tools to be a conscious parent and think about how I wanna respond, but first I have to get my <laugh>, I have to get my brain online. And so the way that we do that is we just, you, part of it is, is just focus of attention. Just taking your attention from whatever is happening and bringing it back to yourself. And mm-hmm. I like to put my hand on my, on my heart. And so what we do is we focus our attention in the area of the heart.
Kimberly: 28:16 So li literally, Rina, something’s happening with your child in front of you. You take attention off your child and you bring it back to yourself.
Jorina: 28:22 Yes. Because if I, if I don’t, I will go in at with my ki and that’s the beautiful part, is this doesn’t have to take a long time. Mm-hmm. Right? This can take five to 10 seconds. It doesn’t have to take long. And that’s, that’s why, you know, these, these techniques are, are really, really brilliant because it’s in the moment, right. We know, great, I can do a mindfulness meditation, but that I need to, like, I need space, I need time, I need the focus, right. To do that. Yeah. Hold on a second here. Lemme Yeah. Wait a second, I’m gonna go meditate minutes. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I’m gonna go take my hot bath, or I’m gonna go walk in the woods. Right? Like we, we, we have these things that can make us feel better, which is light my candle.
29:12 Exactly. Um, but the problem is they’re not in the moment. And those are wonderful to build resilience and to build that regulation over time into our system and increase that buffer zone. Right. The, the amount that it’s gonna take for us before we get activated or upset. Those are great and really important. But in the moment is when we do things that we are not proud of, right? Yes. And no parent hits their child from a regulated place. Mm. No parent. I really, I really believe that. And I know that it’s easy, especially when we ourselves as children, you know, were hid or, you know, had various things happening to us that that’s a place where we can go to. And it can be scary as a parent to be like, oh my gosh, I almost like, huh? Right. Or, or we’d say something that’s shameful to our child, or, you know, there’s various ways that we can, we can hurt our children that we don’t mean to, and it happens because we’re dysregulated.
Kimberly: 30:23 Yes. Well, Rina, even as you’re speaking this, I’m sure many people can relate to, again, raising their voice or doing something out of alignment, right. Of, of their own heart and their character. So first of all, let’s say you have done those things, which pretty much every mom has lost her temper in some way. And there’s this guilt, right? Of my child has seen this, is this a trauma on my child? Right? So how, what do we do about that? Can the child, can we rewire the child? We rewire ourselves? How do we move forward without having this guilt? Because we’re not gonna be perfect. There’s no parent. That’s perfect. Right? So there’s this, I feel like this huge cloud of guilt, unspoken guilt in the mom community and the parent community. And so we need to know it’s okay. We can still come back, hopefully. Absolutely.
How to move forward from guilt as a mom
Jorina: 31:13 Absolutely.
Kimberly: 31:14 Other children,
Jorina: 31:15 I mean, I mean, I’ve been doing heart math for, for almost 10 years and, you know, there’s, there’s definitely points where I flip my lid still. And so it really is not about perfection. It’s really a ratio, right? Hmm. Like in you, if you look in your day, um, you know, I kind of think of responses as like a, a red, like flip my lid response. Um, a yellow is like, I was almost there, but I used my tools and I was able to like, get through it with breathing and heart focus. Um, or green, which was like, ah, you know, no big deal. Like, let’s just move through it. Right? And so, can I have more green and yellow responses in my day? Yeah. Can I reduce the number of red responses in my day? Can I, you know, so it, it really is about the ratio of, you know, how many, how often I was really able to, to be more of the parent I wanna be, and not about, you know, being perfect.
Kimberly: 32:13 But if there’s been like, incidences in the past, let’s say before people had tools and they were flipping a lot, can you kind of, I don’t wanna say recorrect, your child’s experience. Okay, great.
Jorina: 32:26 Well, and you know, I, I think it’s, um, it’s never ever too late, right? It’s never too late to, to connect and, um, start something fresh.
Kimberly: 32:38 Right? Beautiful. And
Jorina: 32:39 I think that these, these tools are pretty unique because they help you connect to that authentic parent, to that person that you, you know, that you really wanna be Yes. And the parent that you really want to be. And sometimes that can get clouded by all the stress in our lives. And so it really is about sort of slowing down a little bit, connecting in to the heart. And, you know, we talk about the adverse childhood experiences. Some people may have heard about ACEs or adverse child experiences. Yes. We also have protective and compensatory experiences, so experiences that build resilience. And so it really is a balance of life isn’t perfect. And, and in fact, many people will say stress is a really important part of building resilience and building a resilient child. So you don’t have to protect your child at all costs and not have them go through any difficult experience, whether it be at home or at school.
33:38 Hmm. Cause the ability to adapt and to bounce back and to know that I’m gonna be okay, even when something bad happens, I’m still gonna be okay. And those are really important lessons for children to have. Wow. And so we don’t want to like, put them in a bubble <laugh> Yeah. And not have anything happen to them, because then when something happens, which inevitably will, you know, they need to know how to adapt and how to get, um, to, to bring themselves and, and know that, you know, life is gonna move on and we’re gonna be okay on the other end. And that’s after trauma too.
Kimberly: 34:16 Exactly. And all the levels, like you said, the little t and the big tea. So again, back to the course, I love how it starts with, there’s a lot of real moms. There’s interviews, it’s very accessible, it’s very rude.
Jorina: 34:27 Dad’s too
Kimberly: 34:28 <laugh>. Yeah. And dad’s too. I didn’t see that part yet. Parents, caregivers, grandparents, whoever. Yes. You know, uncles, we have a very, um, close uncle to our children. So then the next part, and I’m really interested how, you said in your clinic you were starting to teach these tools. So can you talk a little bit about the age of, we know where kids are most receptive to this? Or like you said, maybe it’s all different ages and the fact that it’s easy to teach kids because, you know, as a parent myself and seeing, you know, a lot of different parenting books and a lot of parenting book, its gets sent to me, it’s stents, like you said, there’s just a lot. Like, what am I supposed to do? It’s like, ugh. It’s like too much <laugh>. We wanna make sure we can give a tool and our child will be receptive, they’ll understand it, and then they can practice it, which I think is at the heart of this incredible parenting course Yeah. That you’ve created. It’s simple.
At what age are children receptive to the tools in releasing trauma
Jorina: 35:25 Absolutely. Well, and you know, I will say that there isn’t a one stop shop for everybody. Right? It’s like, what kind of music do you like? Well, I like hip hop. Will I like country? Will I like electronic? Right? And so everybody, you know, can find their different pieces, right. The things that help them the most. Um, and so for some people, this might, it may not, you know, sometimes if we have a lot of trauma, um, going to the heart can actually be painful, can be uncomfortable, can be, you know, we can, it, it can really feel scary. And so sometimes we carry a lot of wounding there. And so, um, that being said, I think these are incredibly accessible tools that, you know, can help us, you know, connect if we can get through that wounding. Um, and sometimes, you know, we do actually work with a heart for trauma. Yes. Um, to help because there is a disconnection to the heart that happens, you know, following trauma. So that’s aga <laugh> another conversation. But, you know, but
Kimberly: 36:31 For the majority of people, we can go through the heart.
Jorina: 36:35 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And so I think I’ll just give a very brief, you know, the, the technique is relatively simple, right? So we start with a focus attention in the heart area away, you know, from the busyness of whatever. We take our mind’s eye and we place it on the heart, and then we just do some deep breaths, right? And breathing is the most effective, voluntary way that we can control our nervous system.
Kimberly: 37:05 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.
Jorina: 37:05 So when we breathe in, right, our sympathetic nervous system, our fight or flight gets activated, right? That’s sometimes what we do. We hold our breath, right? And you can feel that if you hold your breath, you can feel that sort of rise. The out breatha, the exhale, if you just take that for a moment, activates this rest, repair, digest, parasympathetic nervous system
Kimberly: 37:33 Feels really nice.
Jorina: 37:35 This is what we’re doing all day, right? Yes. And
Kimberly: 37:39 When we’re in, in, uh, regulation
Jorina: 37:41 <laugh>. That’s right. And you know, a lot of people are like, oh, we don’t want it, this sympathetic nervous system, right. Fight or flights. Like actually we need the sympathetic nervous system. That’s a very important part of our ability to respond in the moment. Um, but we also need to be able to turn it off or turn it down. And so this is what the breath does over all throughout Right. Activate the sympathetic, then activate the parasympathetic and back and forth. It’s the dance, it’s the balance.
Kimberly: 38:07 I’m like, breathing is really fun for kids. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I can say just, you know, with my son, it’s, he kind of puts noise to it. But kids can connect to that. They may not understand all the physiological benefits, but it is something that can be taught
Jorina: 38:23 Well. And we all do it <laugh> all the time. But, you know, when we’re stressed, we don’t do it very well. So I would say a lot of people hold their breath, or they have really short, shallow Right. Or they have rapid breathing. So the breath is a really sensitive marker for me when the system is dysregulated. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So it’s a very, very, it’s a critical part of regulating the nervous system and Oh, so easy. Because what we do, when we focus our attention in the heart, we can start to imagine the breath flowing in and out through the heart or chest area, just exactly how it’s going. And finding a pace that’s comfortable. And that is a unique part because sometimes people go, you need to do five seconds in, five seconds out, or a square breath or a diaphragmatic breath, or Right. There’s all these options of breathing. And if you are really stressed or have a dysregulated system, it’s really hard to pace your breathing or really hard to do diaphragmatic breathing. So just finding a pace that’s a little slower and deeper than usual. And that’s comfortable. And so, taking three deep breaths there.
Kimberly: 39:35 Wait, sorry, Joanna, this is so amazing. It, it prompts the question, if you’re teaching the children the breathing, right? They start to be aware, oh, my heart’s racing. You’re giving them actual tools in the moment when you were seeing children in your clinic that had, you know, digestive disorders or, you know, other things happening, do you think that was, you know, again, this is a hypothesis, but do you think perhaps some of that, if it was caught earlier with the breathing, it wouldn’t have manifested so deeply into these digestive issues? Or do you think that’s happening separately? Do you know what I’m saying? Like, the breath is sort of the beginning of this cascade effect of that trauma, of that stress. So is it a way to almost catch early? Maybe there’s not specific research around this, but I wonder.
Jorina: 40:22 Yeah, I mean, I, I think, you know, I think probably the most early sign that we can really pick up is behavior. Okay. Know when our kid really is, um, irritable or, you know, upset easily or angry, um, or depressed. Right. Or qu really quiet. Um, and, and maybe that doesn’t happen and sometimes it starts in the body. Right. But I think finding, I think, you know, point pinpointing it in the breath is something that I, I do as a neurologist because I really think about it. Yes. But I think it’s, um, I, I think it would be harder for people, you know, the just general public to, to do that. Um,
Kimberly: 41:01 Got it.
Jorina: 41:01 Because we kind of take it for granted. We don’t even really pay attention to it. Yes.
Kimberly: 41:05 But I, here where they’re with the tools, we’re
Jorina: 41:08 Starting here, we’re when breathe
Kimberly: 41:09 Slower, slow, the whole body slow the reactions
Jorina: 41:13 <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and sometimes, you know, when kids really do connect, and I do find, um, 11 and under, they take to it very easily. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, right? If you, if you just ask them to put their hand on their heart and just take some slower, deeper breaths through the right. I do this at night. My, my son had really terrible separation anxiety and was really, you know, at night especially, um, or if I would leave
Kimberly: 41:43 <laugh> at what age,
Jorina: 41:45 Um, this was going on before Covid and during Covid. So a again, like the stress level mm-hmm. <affirmative> would sort of manifest as a lot of separation anxiety. And so, and one night, actually I had gone out, it was the night before, um, a uh, St. Patrick’s Day and it was like 10 30 at night and I went out to go and grab some like, goodies and balloons and things for my kids. And my son woke up and I wasn’t home and my husband wasn’t home either cuz my grocery store is like across the street. And I came back and he was sitting in the living room and he was like, mom, mom, where were you? And I was like, honey, I’m here. I’m here. He’s like, all I could do was focus breathing.
Kimberly: 42:30 But it
Jorina: 42:30 Worked. Mom, it worked.
Kimberly: 42:32 <laugh>. Oh my gosh. It must have been quite terrifying.
Jorina: 42:36 It was. But he was like, he knew what to do just because we’d gone through it. So many things. Amazing. And he, he was like, all I did mom, all I did was heart focus, breathing. And, and here you are, but oh, I said,
Kimberly: 42:48 No. So what are the chances you were like, I was, God, 10 minutes. I know <laugh>, he happens to wake up. Of course. Right? Oh my gosh.
Jorina: 42:55 Yeah. And so, you know, but you know, this was also a kid who didn’t really, he, you know, he would do it, but he would kind of be like, whatever mom, my younger son. And, and that’s what I’m saying is everybody, you know, takes to it a little differently. And so my younger son, he loves it and he takes to it really easily. And my older son, you know, in that moment where he is like, this, this all I dare mom, he’s sort of, you know, was able to connect the dots. But, um, you know, I would see with, with my clinic, we also, I’d also work with a lot of kids in, um, Lebanon mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, Syrian refugees. And I mean, these are kids who have grown up in Syria amid bombs and, you know, losing family members and limbs and you know, when when they, when they connect into the heart and they do these techniques, I mean, they will, they are the first people to say, it’s the first time in my life that I felt safe.
Kimberly: 43:52 Wow.
Jorina: 43:53 And I mean, that is the power of these techniques. So Yes. You know, being able to have a child, um, you know, at night. Right. And that’s what we wanna do. Yes. I’m here. But you know, also you want to build in some self, some self-reliance, some resilience. If you’re at school and you’re, you know, you’re nervous about a test. Right. You can’t go call up mom <laugh>. So we teach a lot of the heart math techniques to children to prepare for a test or when they’re up at bat and they’re about to, you know, hit the, hit the hit the baseball and they’re feeling really nervous. So these techniques are meant to help calm and regulate the nervous system from that stress response. But it is not meditation. Right. Right. We’re still active and alert. I can still have a conversation. Yes. Right. With my child mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because it’s in the moment. I’m not checking out, I’m with you, you know, and my kids know when I put my hand on my heart and I start, you know, taking my breaths that they know that I’m regulating myself so that I can have a more effective conversation with them. And it’s absolutely critical because what comes out is a totally different, you know, conversation.
Kimberly: 45:13 Well, and it’s always not having to be immediately reacting. Right. Because we see the kids in the grocery store having a tantrum, and then, you know, the mom that’s like, ah, like, oh, this is embarra. Like, you know, there is five seconds. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I mean, unless there’s of course like an immediate danger or something falling over or something where we have to act. But a lot of the times this, we’re not taught this Serena as you know, this is very unique to say, turn it in, get to a certain regulated place in my nervous system and then come back out. Now you mentioned Rina about the effectiveness or the receptivity of children under 11, but I imagine this would benefit parents even if their kids are teenagers and maybe even their child may or may not be receptive. But the parenting part of the course I think would be really, I’m not there yet. My kids are three and seven, but would be helpful even for teenage parents. Agree. <laugh>.
Tools to help parents of teenagers
Jorina: 46:10 A hundred percent. You’re not there
Kimberly: 46:12 Yet either, are you?
Jorina: 46:13 Um, I’m almost the cuff. I’ve got a pre-teen. I got a, I got a 12 year old. But, you know, and the number, the part one of this program is self-regulation. Yes. It’s regulation for the parent. And one of the things we talk about is co-regulation. So this, this fa this, this idea is that when we are regulated, we can be an anchor for our child who is, who is potentially dysregulated. And so my ability to regulate myself in the moment is a critical tool actually for my child who may or may not be open or receptive to a tool, but can see that I am staying regulated, that my voice is not getting raised, that I’m able to effectively engage in the conversation as a role model. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that’s, I mean, that is, you know, more than teaching a technique to a child is Yes, yes.
47:10 Doing it yourself, staying regulated. You’re saying, mom is going to take a little breath and I’m going to, you know, I’m gonna do, why call it a heart lock in or connect to my heart or whatever it is and do it in front of your child. This isn’t something to the room for. Yes. Because that role modeling, right? Yes. Because we, we know that it’s gonna happen, embody it. Our kids are gonna get upset in the playground or you know, with a friend or whatever. And when they see us self-regulate, then they learn that that way. I mean, so much of what our kids learn is just by watching us without anything that we have to say,
Kimberly: 47:54 Well, let’s see, Rina mom’s listening to this and her child is 16 years old and she’s hearing about this for the first time. So maybe she’s had many years of stress and buildup and not coming from a regulated place. I think your message before was very powerful to say, we can always recorrect, we could always turn the ship around because even the child then starts to see, wow, there’s a difference in mom or dad or you know, grandpa or whoever’s listening, whoever’s doing the course, <laugh>, whoever doing the tools, and I like this change, this feels great. Right. And then they see, oh, there’s a different way of being. Yeah. So that’s powerful because again, back to the mom guilt, the parenting guilt that, you know, we didn’t always know, we didn’t have access to these tools. There’s a lot going on, especially with Covid and just in general in this busy modern life. So at any point we can tap in Absolutely. And our child will start to, to also shift.
Jorina: 48:51 That’s right. Well, and, and the heart is really, I, you know, I just wanna add one more piece is that heart is a really important aspect of this. You know, we’re not thinking about our big toe <laugh>,
Kimberly: 49:01 Right?
Jorina: 49:02 When we’re focusing our attention, it’s in the heart, because I’m
Kimberly: 49:05 Thinking about the, the free frontal cortex. We’re not going into the brain. No.
Jorina: 49:09 We really wanna connect into the heart because the heart is where we find all of the heart qualities, patience, understanding, compassion tolerance. Right? Those are the heart qualities that we connect with when we focus in on the heart. That will help us in those conversations more than just bringing our frontal lobe back online and having our brain. But it’s again, that heart brain communication and connection where I can see my child’s perspective more easily or I can have a different lens on it. I can be more patient. I can have, you know, acceptance for something that, you know, I might really have thought, you know, was absolutely unacceptable. So these are things that I think we can access when we connect into the heart, which makes these tools, you know, quite, quite special.
Kimberly: 50:06 Yes. Yes.
Jorina: 50:07 In our, in our toolbox. And it’s number one, right? That’s what we go to. We don’t have to worry about anything else at the moment. We do our heart focused breathing, three big breaths through the heart, and then we can access the rest of the tools that we’ve read about, learned about <laugh>, talking about <laugh>.
Kimberly: 50:27 And do you have testimonials, dorina of parents saying, because there are these different components saying, Hey, I’ve done the work, my child maybe didn’t get there yet, or their attention, or they didn’t wanna do the techniques, but just from me being regulated, it’s changed my family life.
Jorina: 50:45 Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I, I think that’s the biggest thing. And you know, you, you had Greg Braden on your podcast. Yes. Um, you know, and and that whole, like when we shift our perspective, right? Things change. Things change Yes. Upon us. And so these techniques not only are helping to regulate our body and our nervous system, but they are shifting our perspective. And so, you know, our, our whole reality starts to shift when we do that mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, you know, then our, our children, you know, see it and are part of that too. So, you know, that connection becomes much more, uh, fluid and easy with our children when we’re regulating connected to the heart. And that is, it’s all about connection. Mm-hmm. And so when we connect better to our kids, the whole thing changes.
Kimberly: 51:36 So beautiful. It’s so amazing. I can’t recommend the course in Na Torina. And I just love your passion and your authenticity and coming from this space of being a mom, being a neurologist, you have this really wide picture of it. So I really love that you’ve been part of c you know, cr creating the course and we have this connection and it’s, it’s just really beautiful. And so, um, heartfelt, you know, I really, um, was blown away. And I also wanna mention as we close up that the course is accessible, sometimes we get these really thick books or we sign up for something, we’re like, oh my gosh. But it’s divided into, you know, it’s 20 minutes here, there’s worksheets here, you can fit it in as a busy person, a busy mom, busy parent, right? It’s not something that’s overwhelming, another overwhelming thing. Right. It’s not that.
Jorina: 52:28 That’s right. Right. And it’s, so do we have like a pay what you can model? So if, um, you know, basically if, if all you can afford is, is $10, then that’s what you can get the course for. And you know, it has a value of, you know, 99 is what we’re selling it for. But if that’s not affordable for you, then we have a pay what you can. So that’s really, um, makes it, you know, much more accessible to some families when it couldn’t be otherwise.
Kimberly: 52:54 Reina, thank you so much for your amazing work in the world to really bring more heart, more connection, more harmony and families and just people in general. I really feel the power of that. I feel the power of this course and you as an amazing human being. So thank you so much. Thank you. An honor, a pleasure to connect with you. Really.
Jorina: 53:18 It really was a pleasure. Thank you, Kimberly. Thank you so much.
I hope you enjoyed our conversation today. As much as I authentically loved talking to Dr. Jorina Elbers, she is wise, she is compassionate, she is brilliant, and she is the creator behind this amazing parenting course. We will have a direct link to the parenting course firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s also on the heart math website, but there’s a direct link so you can click right to get to it.
04:16 I highly recommend it, so please check it out over there as well as other podcasts. I think you would enjoy articles, recipes, guided meditations, and more. We will be back here, as always Thursday for our next q and a show. And remember, if you have a question that you’d like me to cover, you can also submit it on our podcast tab, on the website, my sauna.com. I’m also here every day on social at underscore Kimberly Snyder for support and inspiration. Thank you for being part of our community. I look forward to connecting with you more. I’m so grateful and I’m so honored that we are connected. Sending you lots of love. Namaste.