Parents Plus & Parents First Psychology Led Service

Our Window of Tolerance

We all have our own ‘Window of Tolerance’

Some of us have a small window, while others have a bigger window.

Our window of tolerance can change.

Our experiences can either shrink or expand our window.

We all have different triggers that will push us out of our window of tolerance.

During difficult or stressful times our window can become particularly small.

Outside our window of tolerance (upper level)

We might become hyper-aroused (fight or flight).

Our heart rate increases and we might shake. We might feel overwhelmed, frightened, and angry. We might show this by becoming aggressive, anxious, obsessive and/or controlling.

Inside our window of tolerance

We are at our personal best (calm but alert).

We can: think, love, learn, be playful, understand other people’s feelings, explore, reflect, use words to describe our feelings and deal with challenges that we might face.

Outside our window of tolerance (lower level)

We might become hypo-aroused (freeze).

Our heart rate decreases. We might feel flat, shut down, empty, low or like we have no energy. We might show this by becoming withdrawn, quiet, unresponsive, inactive and show little emotion.

We can help children to expand their window of tolerance, so they are able to spend more time inside it, by:

Building warm, loving interactions.

Calming their emotions for them and with them. Showing and teaching them how to notice, communicate and manage their emotions.

Wondering about and naming their feelings.

Staying in our own window (staying calm), to help them return to theirs.

Showing them ways of staying in, or getting back into, their window, for example, through breathing or movement activities.

Noticing and avoiding their triggers.

Helping them know that their emotions are not bad and can be supported.

Connecting with them before correcting behaviour.

Credit given to the work of Dan Siegel and Beacon House

For more information, advice or support please contact Cardiff Family Gateway:

Telephone: 03000 133 133



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