It’s 5 minutes before we have to leave for school.
The kids don’t have their shoes on, the sun-cream is not applied, and my daughter’s hair looks a mess. AGHHHHH.
I give a 5 minute warning. And NO response from my daughter. At least my son is busy putting his shoes on.
I find my daughter trying to watch a YouTube video, even though we have a NO-SCREEN-BEFORE-SCHOOL-RULE.
“It’s just been released mummy AND I NEEEEEEEEEEED TO SEE IT NOW, I won’t be long, You HAVE TO WAIT”
I feel the anger and the frustration flooding me.
“HOW DARE SHE?!!!!” I’m thinking. I feel myself getting triggered. Not only does she KNOW THE RULE, no screens! but her tone? OMG?!!!
AND HERE IT IS..
THIS. IS. THE. fork in the road.
If you have been on any of my courses, you know when I say, it is HERE that we can chose to escalate or de-escalate the situation.
Escalation looks something like this:
“How dare you speak to me like that! you are just SO RUDE. You know the rule of no screens and not only aren’t you ready BUT you’re keeping everyone waiting YET AGAIN!!!”
“You are just SOOO mean! You never understand.” She shouts back.
And on and on it goes. The threats and the name calling.
And you finally make it to the car, worn out and with no one talking.
NOT the start to the day you had hoped for.
Where did it all go SOOO wrong?
LET’S LOOK AT A DIFFERENT WAY.
One where we can calmly respond, and actually de-escalate the situation.
Where we aren’t adding fuel to the fire but PUTTING IT OUT.
Before I tell you the how, I want to mention, this is NOT permissive parenting. I don’t want my daughter back chatting and talking rudely at me. I need to be in charge and teach her better communication skills.
As I always say, It is ALL in HOW we go about it that brings us the long-lasting results and the connected relationship.
Unfortunately, NO learning is happening when we are all in the reactive brain. We are ALL triggered and no one is thinking clearly.
WE CAN NOT TEACH THEM how to talk respectfully and calmly WHILE we are dealing with the situation.
When your child is upset, frustrated, disappointed or angry their brain has gone into survival mode. The fight, flight, freeze and faint part of the brain has hijacked their thinking brain.
NO THINKING IS HAPPENING.
AND it is the same for us.
Our thinking part of the brain has literally SHUT DOWN.
It is here that we make the not so good choices.
We say things we don’t mean, we shout and scream or we just give up in frustration.
I know first-hand how easy it is to get triggered and loose our cool. We so want to teach them a lesson in the moment.
BUT when we are triggered we try and teach them to talk calmly and respectfully BY NOT talking calmly or respectfully. Funny that!
We can’t teach our kids what we DO want them to do by doing the exact opposite.
Screaming and losing my cool at my daughter is not modelling the behaviour I want to see.
THIS IS HOW I CHANGED IT ALL AROUND.
Here are my 5 steps to change.
- keep your cool
Not always easy in the moment, it takes practice.
Don’t take their behaviour personally. It is all in HOW we ‘see’ their behaviour.
My daughter wasn’t being RUDE TO me. She was frustrated and upset, she knew she didn’t have time to watch her video and she knew she shouldn’t be watching it in the first place.
- Look behind the behaviour
Although annoying that my morning plan was off course and I definitely don’t like being spoken to like that. I could see how she had worked herself up and got triggered in her reactive brain, joining her there wasn’t going to help matters.
- Acknowledge your child’s frustrations.
By acknowledging her upsets I could de-escalate her frustrations and her reactiveness.
It is by using empathy and connection that we get our child out of their reactive brain and into their thinking brain.
I like looking at the rudeness and backchat as the symptom of the reactive brain.
When we focus our energy on CALMING everyone down, the behaviour will automatically disappear, and the more we calm their brain down the less reactive they become in the long-term. Just what we want isn’t it?
- Connection is key
It is usually the last thing we thing of doing, and there is SO much dated advice out there, that it’s somehow “rewarding bad behaviour.”
I am here to bust that myth, it is the ONLY thing that calms us all down and gets us back on track.
So with a big breath and a new sense of purposefulness I bent down and give her a kiss.
“Oh! you are so disappointed, you wanted to watch the video before school and we don’t have time. Do you want to put your shoes on now or after the sun-cream?”
And with that. We were in the car in less than 5 minutes and all was calm, both kids happily chatting and having fun.
5. Teaching moment
AFTER SCHOOL TODAY I will talk about what happened and how we can do things differently tomorrow morning. This is what I call responsive parenting.
This is where we find solutions.
In week 3 of my “Chaos to Calm” course we do a whole module on Setting up for success. This is where my parenting skills took a complete 360. Learning these tools was a complete life changer.
So my conversation with my daughter might start like this.
“I noticed how frustrated you were this morning, you really wanted to watch your video and I needed to make sure everyone was ready for school so we can leave on time.. You got upset and I don’t like being spoken to like that.
I’m sure you can think of other ways to let me know how angry you were.
We don’t watch screens in the morning as it helps us not get distracted and ready on time. I know how hard it is for you not to watch a quick video. What can we do to help you?
What do you think we can do tomorrow?”
This is WHEN the learning happens.
When we feel understood and connected, our calm rational brain is back on line ready to learn.
Parenting is a long-term goal and focusing on teaching and calming down our child’s brain is where we need to focus to see long-lasting change.
I would love to hear from you.