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How to Heal a Dysregulated Nervous System

How to Heal a Dysregulated Nervous System
Picture of Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

As parents of dysregulated children, you understand the unique challenges that come with supporting your little ones on their journey to emotional well-being. You've witnessed the impact of a dysregulated nervous system firsthand, and you know that it can affect not only your child's life but your family's as well.

Your own nervous system plays a crucial role in this intricate dance, as it influences your ability to provide the love, care, and guidance your child needs. But the path to healing and nurturing a balanced nervous system can sometimes feel elusive amidst the daily demands of parenting.

In this comprehensive guide, specifically crafted for parents of dysregulated children, we embark on a journey to understand, heal, and restore equilibrium to both your child's and your own nervous systems. We recognize that by tending to your well-being, you can become an even more effective source of support for your child.

Throughout this guide, we will explore a wide range of techniques, practices, and insights tailored to parents of dysregulated children. From immediate relief through breathing exercises to holistic approaches like neurofeedback and PEMF therapy, we delve into the world of nervous system regulation with a focus on your unique parenting journey.

By prioritizing your well-being, you not only enhance your own life but create a brighter future for your dysregulated child, marked by balance, resilience, and emotional strength.

The Crucial Significance of a Healthy Nervous System

A robust and well-maintained nervous system stands as the linchpin of our physical and psychological well-being. It plays an essential role in governing our bodily processes, effectively managing stressors, and safeguarding our holistic health. A properly functioning nervous system is indispensable, as it underpins our body's capacity to operate at its peak performance, ensuring overall wellness.

Deciphering Nervous System Dysregulation

Nervous system dysregulation, a state characterized by an irregularity in the autonomic nervous system, which oversees involuntary bodily functions, becomes over or under stimulated.

This disparity can manifest an array of both physiological and psychological indications, significantly impacting our quality of life. Grasping the intricacies of this condition is pivotal, given its potential to disrupt our well-being.

Chronic Stress and Trauma: Their Profound Influence on the Nervous System

Nervous system dysregulation, a state characterized by an irregularity in the autonomic nervous system, which oversees involuntary bodily functions, manifests a complex challenge. 

This disparity can manifest an array of both physiological and psychological indications, significantly impacting our quality of life. Compounded stress and trauma have the potential to disrupt our well-being, especially when not addressed. 

Discerning Nervous System Dysregulation: Key Indications and Causes

As parents, understanding the challenges your child faces is at the heart of your journey to support them. Nervous system dysregulation, a complex condition, plays a significant role in your child's emotional well-being. In this section, we'll explore the common symptoms and underlying causes of nervous system dysregulation, helping you relate to your child's experiences.

Let's begin by deciphering the signs that might indicate nervous system dysregulation in your child. These symptoms encompass a range of issues, from anxiety and depression to stomach problems, sleep disturbances, and ongoing discomfort. By recognizing these signs, you can better connect with your child's struggles and provide the support they need.

Yet, understanding nervous system dysregulation goes beyond recognizing symptoms. We'll also delve into the root causes behind this condition. This journey will take you through the impact of chronic stress, traumatic experiences, genetics, and lifestyle choices on your child's nervous system. By unraveling these complexities, you'll be better equipped to navigate your child's path towards healing and balance.

Discerning Common Symptoms of Nervous System Dysregulation

In the quest to tackle nervous system dysregulation comprehensively, it becomes imperative to discern and acknowledge the prevalent symptoms associated with this condition. These encompass a broad spectrum, encompassing anxiety, depression, cognitive issues, gastrointestinal disturbances, sleep disruptions, and persistent discomfort, to name just a few.

Uncovering the Root Causes of Nervous System Dysregulation

Comprehending the underlying triggers that lead to nervous system dysregulation stands as a pivotal aspect of effective management. 

There are a multitude of contributing factors, spanning stress, traumatic experiences, genetic predispositions, and lifestyle choices. By unraveling these intricate facets, we can better navigate the path toward resolving an overactivated nervous system and resulting moodiness, irritability, withdrawn behaviors, etc. .

Empowering Techniques for Nervous System Regulation

Now that we have explored the importance of a healthy nervous system and gained a better understanding of nervous system dysregulation, it's time to delve into the practical solutions. In this section, we will equip you with a diverse array of techniques and practices designed to help you regain control over your nervous system.

These techniques are invaluable tools that can provide immediate relief from the challenges posed by a dysregulated nervous system. From the simplicity of deep breathing to the serenity of mindfulness meditation, the revitalization offered by yoga and motion therapies, the unwinding benefits of progressive muscle relaxation, and the grounding practices that connect you to the present moment – each method has its unique strengths in promoting nervous system stability.

By exploring and implementing these techniques, you'll be taking significant steps toward healing and regulating your nervous system, fostering balance, and enhancing your overall well-being. Let's embark on this journey of self-discovery and empowerment as we unlock the secrets to a healthier, happier nervous system.

Breath Mastery for Swift Relief: Reclaiming Balance with Mindful Breathing

When seeking swift relief from nervous system dysregulation, mastering the art of mindful breathing is paramount. Explore these simple yet profoundly effective breathing exercises:

  • Deep Breathing: Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this process several times, progressively relaxing your body with each breath.
  • Box Breathing: Inhale for a count of four, hold your breath for four, exhale for four, and then pause for another four counts before repeating. This technique creates a sense of balance and calm within your nervous system.
  • The 4-7-8 Technique: Inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale audibly through your mouth for a count of eight. This rhythmic breathing exercise facilitates the activation of your body's relaxation response, diminishing nervous system dysregulation swiftly.

Cultivating Serenity Through Mindfulness and Meditation Practices: Nurturing the Soul and Nervous System

Mindfulness and meditation practices offer profound serenity to soothe your nervous system. Explore these techniques:

  • Mindfulness Meditation: By focusing on the present moment, mindfulness meditation alleviates stress, promotes emotional balance, and aids in nervous system regulation. Sit in a comfortable position, observe your breath and sensations, and gently redirect your thoughts to the here and now. 
  • Body Scan Meditation: This practice involves directing your attention to various parts of your body, scanning for tension and releasing it. It fosters a profound sense of relaxation and connectivity with your nervous system.

Revitalizing with Yoga and Motion Therapies: Harmony Through Gentle Movement

  • Yoga for Nervous System Regulation: Embrace the rejuvenating influence of yoga postures, breath control, and meditation techniques. Yoga fosters equilibrium and harmony within the nervous system, promoting balance and emotional well-being.
  • Tai Chi and Qigong: These gentle motion practices encompass flowing movements and mindful breathing. Tai Chi and Qigong have been found to enhance nervous system regulation, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of tranquility.

By integrating these techniques into your daily routine, you can embark on a journey towards nurturing your nervous system, promoting balance, and finding solace in the midst of life's demands.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation: A Path to Nervous System Balance

Progressive Muscle Relaxation A Path to Nervous System Balance

Progressive muscle relaxation is a valuable technique that parents of children with behavioral and neurodevelopmental issues can incorporate into their toolkit. This practice involves systematically tensing and then releasing muscle groups throughout the body. By doing so, it helps release physical tension and promotes a sense of calm and relaxation.

Parents can guide their children through this process, teaching them to become more aware of bodily sensations and how to intentionally relax their muscles. This technique can be particularly beneficial for children who struggle with heightened stress or anxiety, as it provides a tangible method for reducing physical tension and promoting nervous system regulation.

Grounding Techniques: Staying Present Amidst Challenges

Grounding exercises offer a lifeline for parents dealing with children facing behavioral, emotional and neurodevelopmental challenges. These techniques help both parents and children stay connected to the present moment, which can be especially challenging during moments of stress or emotional upheaval.

Grounding techniques may involve practices like deep breathing, mindfulness exercises, or sensory activities. By engaging the senses and redirecting attention to the here and now, these exercises reduce anxiety and promote stability within the nervous system. They empower parents and children alike to regain control over their emotions and reactions in the face of challenging situations.

Healing and Resetting Your Nervous System: A Parent's Guide

Nutrition and Supplements: Supporting Your Child's Nervous System Health

Exploring the role of nutrition and specific supplements, such as magnesium, in supporting the nervous system health of children with behavioral and neurodevelopmental issues. 

Parents can learn how dietary choices and supplements can play a pivotal role in nurturing their child's nervous system and promoting emotional balance.

Sleep and Its Role in Nervous System Recovery for Children

Understanding the crucial importance of quality sleep in allowing the nervous system to rest, recover, and reset, especially for children with neurodevelopmental issues. 

Parents should use strategies to help their children establish healthy sleep routines, which can significantly impact their overall well-being.

The Impact of Exercise on Nervous System Health in Children

Delve into the positive influence of regular physical activity on nervous system function and the overall well-being of children with behavioral and neurodevelopmental challenges. Parents can explore ways to incorporate age-appropriate exercises into their child's daily routine to promote nervous system health.

Holistic Approaches to Healing: Options for Children's Nervous System Wellness

Parents can explore innovative holistic approaches like neurofeedback and PEMF therapy as potential solutions for supporting their child's nervous system healing. These non-invasive techniques offer new avenues for addressing neurodevelopmental challenges and promoting emotional balance.

Professional Therapy and Counseling Options for Children

As parents, we understand the profound impact of a dysregulated nervous system on your child's life and your family as a whole. In this section, we shine a light on the benefits of professional therapy and counseling tailored to children with behavioral and neurodevelopmental challenges.

Why Professional Guidance Matters

Professional therapy and counseling can be transformative for children dealing with nervous system dysregulation. They provide a safe space for your child to express their thoughts and emotions, develop essential coping skills, and work through challenges that may have seemed insurmountable. These therapeutic interventions are not only supportive but also instrumental in fostering your child's emotional growth and well-being.

Self-Care Practices for Parents Navigating Children's Nervous System Healing

Strengthening Parents, Nurturing Children

Raising children with behavioral and neurodevelopmental issues can be an emotionally and physically demanding journey. In this segment, we provide essential self-care practices tailored to parents facing the unique challenges posed by nervous system dysregulation in their children.

Stress Management Strategies for Parents

Navigating the Storm with Calm

Parenting a child with nervous system dysregulation can be a rollercoaster ride. We understand the strain it places on parents, which is why we offer practical stress management techniques designed to empower you. These strategies are customized to help you reduce the burden on your own nervous system, ensuring you can provide effective support to your children.

Empowering Parents

Stress management strategies are a lifeline for parents. By mastering these techniques, you'll be better equipped to handle the daily challenges, reduce stress-related health risks, and cultivate an environment of stability and understanding for your child.

Creating a Supportive Lifestyle for Both Parents and Children

Balancing Nervous Systems Together

Your family's lifestyle plays a pivotal role in promoting nervous system well-being. Here, we emphasize the importance of a balanced and nurturing lifestyle that benefits both parents and their children.

A supportive lifestyle can significantly contribute to the emotional health and stability of the entire family. It leads to a calm nervous system of parents where children can co-regulate from.  In our one-to-one BrainBehaviorReset ™ Program, we provide guidance on how to create an environment that fosters well-being, harmony, and resilience in the face of challenges.

Nurturing Social Connections: A Vital Component of Nervous System Regulation

Strength in Connection

Social support and connections are like a safety net for parents and children alike. In this section, we discuss the positive impact of nurturing social connections on nervous system regulation and emotional health. We emphasize the importance of building and maintaining a supportive network.

Connecting with others who share your experiences can be a source of comfort and strength. We'll explore ways to build and nurture these essential connections, enhancing your ability to navigate the ups and downs of your child's journey towards nervous system regulation.

Seeking Professional Help for Children with Dysregulated Nervous Systems

Seeking Professional Help for Children with Dysregulated Nervous Systems

Recognizing when it's time to seek help from healthcare professionals for children with severe or persistent nervous system dysregulation is a crucial step in ensuring your child's well-being. Early intervention can make a significant difference in managing and improving nervous system issues. 

Here are some key indicators that may signal the need to consult a healthcare professional:

  • Persistent and Severe Symptoms: If your child's symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, behavioral challenges, or sensory sensitivities, persist over an extended period and significantly impact their daily life, it's essential to seek professional guidance.
  • Safety Concerns: If your child's dysregulated nervous system leads to behaviors that pose a risk to their safety or the safety of others, immediate intervention is necessary. Safety always comes first.
  • Developmental Milestones: If you notice delays in your child's developmental milestones, including speech and language development, motor skills, or social interactions, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional who specializes in pediatric development. 
  • Regression: If your child experiences a sudden regression in previously acquired skills or behaviors, it may indicate an underlying issue that requires assessment and intervention. 
  • Family and School Concerns: Feedback from teachers, caregivers, or family members about your child's behavior, emotional well-being, social functioning or developmental progress should be taken seriously. It can provide valuable insights into the need for professional support. 
  • Parental Instinct: Trust your parental instincts. If you have concerns about your child's nervous system regulation, even if you can't pinpoint specific symptoms, seeking professional advice can provide clarity and support.

The Role of Medication in Nervous System Regulation for Children: Side Effects and Non-Medication Alternatives

Medications are presented as the only option for treatment for children with dysregulated nervous systems.  Before starting any medication with a developing brain, here are some considerations:

  • Potential Benefits: Medication may help manage specific symptoms or conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It can be especially beneficial when other interventions have been less effective.
  • Side Effects: Medications can have side effects, which vary depending on the type of medication and the individual child. It's essential to discuss potential side effects thoroughly with your child's healthcare provider.
  • Non-Medication Alternatives: There are non-medication alternatives and complementary therapies that can be explored alongside or instead of medication. These may include therapy, lifestyle changes, dietary modifications, and holistic approaches like biofeedback.

Embracing Hope on the Path to Healing

To parents of children who face the daily challenges of self-regulation, we salute your unwavering love, dedication, and resilience. Your journey may have been marked by moments of uncertainty, but through it all, you have remained steadfast in your commitment to your child's well-being.

As we conclude this journey through techniques that can heal the brain and nurture self-regulation, we want to leave you with a profound sense of hope and empowerment. Your role in your child's life is immeasurable, and these techniques are tools that can bring about transformative change.

The healing power of these techniques lies not only in their ability to regulate the brain but also in the connection they foster between you and your child. Through deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and gentle movement practices, you have the opportunity to embark on this healing journey together. By modeling these techniques and sharing these moments, you can strengthen the bond with your child and create a safe and nurturing space for them to thrive.

Remember that progress may be gradual, and each step forward, no matter how small, is a victory worth celebrating. As you incorporate these practices into your daily life, you are sowing the seeds of resilience, emotional well-being, and self-regulation in your child's mind and heart.

Know that you are not alone on this journey. Seek support from our expert team, connect with other parents who share your experiences, and, most importantly, practice self-compassion. By nurturing your own well-being, you fortify your ability to support and guide your child through life's challenges.

Your dedication, patience, and love are the cornerstones of your child's healing journey. Embrace these techniques as tools to ignite the remarkable potential within your child's brain and spirit. As you do, may you both find solace, hope, and an unwavering belief in a brighter future filled with self-regulation, resilience, and boundless possibilities.

If you are ready to address your child’s or teen’s dysregulated behavior, then our BrainBehaviorReset™ Program is your next step. Take our solution matcher or listen to my It’s Gonna Be OK! Podcast for parents and these will guide you to the right solution for you. 

Citations:

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2021). Addressing Early Childhood Emotional and Behavioral Problems. Pediatrics. 

Chervonsky, E., & Hunt, C. (2019). Emotion regulation, mental health, and social wellbeing in a young adolescent sample: A concurrent and longitudinal investigation. Emotion, 19(2), 270-282. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29697988/

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge was the featured expert in this Healthline article: 

Healthline. (2019.). Self-regulation skills. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/childrens-health/self-regulation-skills

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge is a licensed mental health expert that is frequently cited in the media: 

  • CBS2 New York (Article) Experts Offer Tips On How To Help Children Deal With Anxiety.
  • Parade  Want to Know How to Overcome Social Anxiety? We've got Help!.

Are you looking for SOLUTIONS for your struggling child or teen? 

Dr. Roseann and her team are all about science-backed solutions, so you are in the right place! 

Grab your complimentary copy of
147 Therapist-Endorsed Self-Regulation Strategies for Children: A Practical Guide for Parents

Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Licensed Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of media outlets including The Mel Robbins Show, CBS, NBC, PIX11 NYC, Today, FORBES, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Business Insider, Women’s Day, Healthline, CNET, Parade Magazine and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.

Dr. Roseann - Brain Behavior Reset Parent Toolkit

She coined the terms, “Re-entry panic syndrome” and “eco-anxiety” and is a frequent contributor to media on mental health. 

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge has three decades of experience in working with children, teens and their families with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, concussion, dyslexia and learning disability, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression and mood disorder, Lyme Disease, and PANS/PANDAS using science-backed natural mental health solutions such as supplements, magnesium, nutrition, QEEG Brain maps, neurofeedback, PEMF, psychotherapy and other non-medication approaches. 

She is the author of three bestselling books, It’s Gonna Be OK!: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child's Mental Health, The Teletherapy Toolkit, and Brain Under Attack. Dr. Roseann is known for offering a message of hope through science-endorsed methods that promote a calm brain. 

Her trademarked BrainBehaviorResetⓇ Program and It’s Gonna be OK!Ⓡ Podcast has been a cornerstone for thousands of parents facing mental health, behavioral or neurodevelopmental challenges.

She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health, Neurotastic™Brain Formulas and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Mental Health Professional (CIMHP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach.  She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF).

© Roseann-Capanna-Hodge, LLC 2023

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