A real … long … three … second … breath.
Really experience how long three seconds is.
One-one thousand. Two-one thousand. Three-one thousand.
It’s that long.
Three seconds is your window of opportunity.
Three seconds is your moment to stop your reaction.
So what do you do while you’re taking a three second breath? You take three seconds to think.
What do you think about? You think about what will happen next if you react.
Will your reaction help the situation?
Will your reaction intensify your emotional exhaustion?
Will your reactive words cause the situation to get better or worse?
Will your reaction emotionally empower your child to learn from the situation or manage things more effectively, or will your reaction emotionally shut your child down?
If you realize that your reaction will not make things better, then stop yourself. Walk away. Stand in silence. Take more breaths. But. Do. Not. Proceed.
Dictionary.com states that indignant means “expressing strong displeasure” and righteous means “morally right or justifiable.” And I just spoke with a parent who reminded me that reacting is like “the boy who cried wolf.”
If you keep reacting, yelling, and saying things in the name of correcting behavior that are reactive, then when you need to be righteously indignant, and there comes a time in every parents’ life when you do need to lay down the law by expressing your morally justifiable strong displeasure, then you won’t be heard. You won’t be heard because you will have been classified by your child as the parent who cried wolf, the parent who always yells, even at the little things, so why should I bother really listening!
And no parent wants that.
So take three breaths. Think about whether your reaction is helpful to the situation at hand, or whether your reaction will ignite more belligerence and animosity.
And if your reaction would indeed make things worse, look in your child’s eyes to see what’s really motivating him or her.
Is she afraid?
Does he fully understand what he’s done?
Is she expressing her needs through misbehavior instead of using her words because she’s just too young to know any better?
Or she old enough to know better, but emotionally consumed due to the situation so she’s lashing out.
If you see any of that in his or her eyes, focus on love and empathy as you correct her. Fill the needs instead of reacting, and watch the magic.
Do you wonder when it would be helpful to be empathetic, and when it would be helpful to your child’s learning to lay down the law? Do you wonder what words to use in either circumstance?
Everything Proactive Parenting offers has the thread of how to respond, instead of react woven into it. My books and The Authentic Parent Series are filled with concepts, sample conversations, tips and ideas that help you stop reacting and start responding as you raise kids.
Just thought you’d want to know.