It’s Monday morning at 7:45 am and you’ve already yelled at Suzie Q, shrieked at Timmy, and argued with your spouse! You’re exhausted and wonder what in the world happened to your life?! Sound familiar?
I know you don’t have a drop of energy left at the end of the day to learn new techniques, no matter how valuable they are, I get it.
However, if you keep reacting, not only will you build a wedge between you and your family, you’ll also continue feeling drained and defeated each and every day.
The plain truth is reacting drains your energy, where as responding allows you to retain your energy.
Here’s what one parent had to say, “… responding gives us energy. We let the kids take some responsibility, and we aren’t trying to fix and control everything. The kids seem to be happier and have responded wonderfully to our new parenting style.” Janet Borchert, mother of 4 Lafayette Colorado
Let me ask you a question, “What’s a reaction?” My guess is your answer would be something like, “It’s when I explode and begin yelling!”
Well, yelling is the end result. Reacting begins before yelling occurs, and has nothing to do with your child! Don’t get me wrong, your child’s behavior is the trigger, but it’s not the point of origin.
I doubt there’s anyone these days who hasn’t heard of the reptilian part of our brain that decides if we go into the fight or flight mode. This was an essential part of our brain when there was a possibility we could be eaten by a Saber Tooth Tiger, oh my! Even though we don’t face that threat any longer, that part of our brain is still active.
When we sit in traffic to and from work, rush to get here and there, work on family and household activities all weekend, and then begin again on Monday, our bodies send the signal to our brain that we’re in stress mode 24/7. When life does not include downtime or some good ole fashioned rest, and our bodies unconsciously send the message to our brain that we’re in constant stress which triggers us to go into, and stay, in the fight or flight mode.
Being in fight or flight mode means your blood is directed away from the digestive tract out toward the limbs so there’s greater ability to run or fight. In today’s society we have heart issues, digestion issues, lack of sleep, aches and pains and if we continue at this level … well you know the rest, and there’s more:
1. When you reside in the fight or fight mode, for extended periods of time, your body tends to see everything in your environment as a possible threat to your survival, even something your spouse, partner or child says, or does, is perceived as a threat.
2. Your unconscious automatically turns stress mode into survival mode and everything feels like a series of short-term emergencies.
3. You actually begin living crisis to crisis and feel like there’s no relief in sight
4. That means that every bout of misbehavior is handled at the same high intensity as a true emergency.
5. When you live at this level of intensity and your child misbehaves, that misbehavior is the straw that broke the camels back, and you react.
That’s what I meant when I said, “your child’s behavior is the trigger, but it’s not the point of origin.”
The good news is, you can do something about it. The BreakThrough Series shares ways to help you:
a. Lower the stress that comes from parenting.
b. Lower stress diminishes your intense feelings.
c. Feeling less intense reduces the possibility that your brain sees you living in crisis mode.
d. When your brain doesn’t think you’re in crisis mode, you stop automatically reacting.
e. Fewer reactions allow you to respond, which gives you energy and the ability to think, so you can teach, instead of react.
Whew, that’s a mouth full!
I hope you now see how a reaction occurs. What can responding do instead? Oh, so much!
Responding always begins with a deep breath, or two or three, if need be. That deep breath immediately sends an unconscious message to your brain that says, “I’ve got this, stand down.” The deep breath also sends several messages to your child as well.
1. It alerts your child to the fact that (s)he misbehaved, versus the need to yell.
2. It tells him or her that getting calm is something people decide to do, it doesn’t just happen.
This is important because you tell your kids every day to “calm down” but have you shown them how to calm down? Your simple deep breath shows your kids, this is step one.
3. It shows your child you’re serious about the rules, and that breathing resets your parent power so you can focus on what’s happened.
4. And finally, your deep breath shares a very important life lesson, “Think before you act.” and that’s something every parent wants to impart to his or her child.
All of that comes from an intentional deep breath or two.