- Have you ever given much thought to how you react to things?
- How do you react in conflict situations?
- How do you react when you are very sad or mad?
- How do you react to your children fighting, bickering and arguing?
Have you ever considered that your children might react the way you react, after all we are their primary role models.
Being able to switch from reactivity mode to response mode is as skill I believe key to parenting well, however, it is certainly much easier said than done! In this modern, digital, seemingly instant world, we are all so easily aroused with many things coming into consideration to influence us in the heat of the moment. If you are tired, or hungry, or having a bad day, have a headache, your reaction to future things will all be based off that. It’s hardly surprising that something else which challenges this baseline, such as kids whining, arguing, bickering and fighting might tip us over the edge into reactivity and doing or saying something without thought that we might regret.
Reacting to something in the heat of the moment often means that you take the low road. How do you stop yourself from doing this and getting caught up in the reactive, inflammable, “take the low road” web? It starts with being self-aware. It all boils down to being able to regulate your emotions and being able to recognize your own emotional state is the first step.
When we are in our reactive state, in our primitive, reptilian brain, the process in itself shuts down our thinking, wise leader brain making it very difficult to act with thought and rationale. Depending on what has happened and the individual concerned, it can take sometime for the brain to settle out of this fight, fright or freeze mode and back into thinking mode. In every event though, taking a “time in” where we can at least, stop, breath and try to calm down before we speak or act will usually evoke a better response. Simply being able to say “You know what, I am in no state to deal with this right now, please give me a few minutes” is often a great response in the heat of the moment. I firmly believe that when our children are exposed to heightened reactivity that it breeds similar reactivity behaviors in them – monkey see, monkey do. The good news is that when they are exposed to us controlling our reactions in the heat of the moment, they will learn how to do it too.
Imagine a home where children and parents have learned how not to react in the heat of the moment and have learned how to respond to things with a calm frame of mind. It would be pretty amazing.
I would like to invite you and encourage you to take some time to try and do this and see what results it might yield both for you and the other person you are dealing with. I think you may be surprised at just what it feels like and think that above all, you will feel that it is an infinitely more respectful way to be and that the positives that flow from this simple thing may be huge.