Do You Respond or React?
I want to talk about how we can de-escalate situations quickly and how we can really change our responses in a very quick and easy way.
This is one of the things that I don’t always get right – but it’s something that can make a big difference to our lives in general as well as our connection with our child.
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“One of the key aspects that we focus on when we’re looking at Connective Parenting NVR is raising our presence with our children.”
When we’re raising our presence, we are putting ourselves in their mind whether we are with them or not, and that’s hugely powerful.
Raising our presence increase our connection with them and gives them a positive mental image of us in their minds that says: “It’s ok, I’m here for you, I’ve got you”.
When we’re raising our presence we are changing our connection with our child. One way we can do this is how we respond to them in the moment.
That might be in an escalating situation, or when they’re struggling with their emotions or feelings.
Very often, we can knee-jerk reaction in that moment.
Let’s set the scene a little bit here.
You’re getting ready to head out, and you’ve asked your child to put their shoes on. They don’t do it.
You ask them again. Still nothing (anyone with me, here?!)
Again, you ask them and they’re still ignoring you and you’re starting to become more impatient, perhaps a little snappy (I’m not judging here – this is spoken from experience!).
“PUT YOUR SHOES ON NOW!”
I’m sure you can think of loads of examples where your response to your child hasn’t been quite as calm as it could have been. I’ve been there. I still go there from time to time – we all do.
But if we can stop in those moments and ask ourselves “how do I need to respond to this situation?” instead of reacting in the heat of the moment, we are raising our presence.
We are showing them that we can see how they feel and that we can recognize those emotions.
We are helping them with our response to regulate themselves, to calm down and to feel able to express any worries to us.
As parents, we all want to help our child.
In the case of the shoe situation, what we could do here, instead of getting snappy and impatient after we’ve asked them the first time, is say “I can see you’re struggling this morning and don’t want to put your shoes on, what can I do to help?”.
What that does is show your child you recognize how they’re feeling.
That is such a powerful way of resolving a situation before it’s even started. We don’t want a situation escalating that we’ll then have to de-escalate.
When we show that we can recognize their feelings, they are more likely to tell us what is going on.
I know as a parent, when I react rather than respond, I’m more likely to look back on it and wish I had said or done something differently.
Those are the times when I say something that I think afterwards “that wasn’t very helpful” or “that wasn’t very kind”.
Those are the times when the words that I’ve used, or the tone that I’ve used, wasn’t very helpful in that situation.
So how do we stop ourselves in that moment?
It can be very difficult. If I’m honest, I believe it depends on the situation and it comes with practice.
I have become better and better at doing this through time. Those of you have followed me for a while, probably know exactly what I’m about to write next…
It comes down to good old fashioned Self Care.
Yes, self care. When I mention self care to people, they roll their eyes and think “there goes Sarah with her Self Care talk again”.
But the thing is, it usually IS the answer.
When I’m tired, stressed, frustrated or not feeling great, I find responding much harder than reacting.
I will react really quickly because my patience levels are already lower.
If I’m stressed, I’m already near that fight or flight state so it’s going to take less to trigger me in that moment.
Whereas, when I’m looking after myself, getting to bed on time, drinking enough water, getting some exercise every day… I feel better.
Therefore stopping myself in the moment, and thinking about how I need to respond to my son, becomes a lot easier.
In that moment, when I say to my son (let’s go back to the shoe example) “can you put your shoes on now” and he doesn’t do it, I then have the capacity to ask myself “what’s causing this”?
Is he distracted by the tv and therefore isn’t registering what I’m saying?
Or is there actually something that he’s worried about.
When I’m calm enough, I can usually tell the difference. When I’m not looking after myself, and stressed or tired, I may not pick up those really small signals that tell me what’s going on for him. That is the power of self care.
Is Self Care all about bubble baths and bubbly wine?
Bubble baths and bubbly wine sounds lovely – but in all honesty, who has time for that every day? Not me!
Self care is the things that top you up, that are easy to do as part of every day life. That’s what makes the difference.
WE all know the importance of getting enough sleep.
We all know the importance of being hydrated and eating properly.
If taking care of yourself allows you to stop, take a breath and respond in a different way, you are helping your house to be calmer.
That also therefore creates less stress within the family home and helps your children to develop and grow their own understanding, their self confidence and their self belief. You are raising your connection and your presence with them.
We feel more deserving of love when people are connected to us and love us.
When people can see our emotions and acknowledge them, we feel more loved.
Next time things are escalating or you’re getting frustrated, try to take a step back. Take a deep breath and ask yourself how you can move things forward in as calm a way as possible.
It might take a bit of time, and a bit of work, and you probably wont get it right every time, but it will make a big difference.
When we are more relaxed, we can connect better with our children.
I’ll say it again… Self Care!