“I need a moment (to regulate my emotions).”

Emi Sano
3 min readAug 1

Real Talk. Parenting is hard. You have to constantly work on your own emotional regulation while helping regulate your child’s emotions.

Ever since my toddler could understand that 1.) His emotions CAN be regulated and 2.) He needs time and sometimes mommy’s help to regulate his emotions, we’ve used the phrase “Do you need a moment?”

As in…

Do you need a moment to collect yourself? To find your calm? To catch your breath? Do you need some time to just sit and reflect on what you really want to happen?

Sometimes I wish someone would ask me the same question. Do you need a moment? “Yes, I really do.”

The big thing recently is my toddler recognizing that he is entering a dysregulation state and needs to step away to breathe or ask for help to regulate.

“Mommy, I need a moment.”

“Mommy, take care of me.”

“Mommy, I need a moment with you.”

All these things have been said in a point of high dysregulation situations and every time I stop and take a deep breath because frankly in those situations I need a moment, too.

I’ve always been quick-tempered. I go from zero to one hundred so fast and I don’t even see it happening until it is too late. I worried that was going to be a thing with my son — we’ve always joked that my family line is full of hot-heads — but I realized that I could break that cycle and help not only him, but myself cool my head before I get too hot.

I’ve listened to quite a few podcasts on this as well as read a lot of parenting books (that focused more on the parent than the child). I also scroll through way too many TikToks and watch all the PHD/ child psychologist parenting content. I swear all of this has helped shape my perspective on how my child is behaving. With that change of perspective it’s also helped me look internally on why I react the way I do.

My husband helped me a lot, as well. I’ve watched as he works through his own personal struggles to not immediately react over his triggers. I am actually amazed at how well he can hold his composure, because I cannot.

My triggers are hard to cope with. I am immediately set off. It has taken me a lot longer than I would have liked to not react with anger and annoyance at both my toddler and my husband. It may seem like I don’t want my son to see my emotions, and that’s not the case. I want him to see me getting upset, mad and frustrated, but I also want him to see me bring myself back to neutral. Because if he can see that I can regulate my own emotions, he will be able to do it as well.

A recent anecdote to help you see how things are going with me and my son:

My son was having a hard time with a situation and wasn’t able to regulate his emotions. I did my best to keep my cool but it was hard and not working. We both were yelling at this point.

Then he said through tears, “MOMMY I NEED A MOMENT!”

I asked, “Do you want it with me?”

He cried, “YES!”

We hugged and both took deep breaths together and sat in silence for like two minutes. I waited until we both were calm before I started talking about what just happened. I apologize for yelling and then we moved on. Later after his quiet time he came to me and apologized for yelling and crying. I did explain it was ok to cry and have those feelings. We talked some more about how we can both communicate without resorting to yelling.

I hope by starting the conversations with him about our feelings and emotions and how we can work through our hard times together, he won’t be as hot-headed as I am (was) and be a more level-headed adult.

Don’t be afraid to ask your toddler, “Do you need a moment?”

Because sometimes, they do. And so do you.

Emi Sano

Emi Sano is a self-published author of “Voices: a short story collection” and YA novella “We Don’t Talk About That.” She freelances as a writer/blogger.