I was trained as a family therapist before I had children. I took my training seriously and eventually even fancied myself an expert on why families had problems and how they should solve them.
Then I had children of my own.
Like many parents, I understood that responding to misbehavior with harsh words or severe consequences wasn’t the most effective way to teach my child how I wanted them to behave. But many times, what was happening just made me feel SO FRUSTRATED that how I reacted wasn’t as loving or graceful as I wanted it to be.
Reactive patterns often emerge when the same problem seems to happen again and again. It even feels like your brain is on autopilot with that same old ungraceful response.
Kids who have ADHD or anxiety have difficulty regulating their response to sensory stimuli in the environment. They live in a state of higher than average emotional arousal that often leads to very strong reactions to events that seem relatively minor to others. My child’s strong reaction often triggers my own reactivity and just like that, we’re off on that autopilot cycle again.
When we respond in anger with blame and shame, we’re actually shifting the focus AWAY from what we want to happen.
It’s natural to feel irritated, frustrated, offended or angry when your child is disrespectful or misbehaving. Learning how to detach from our own frustrated feelings before we respond to our child’s behavior is the key to stopping the cycle of reacting and improving our parenting success. Detaching from our own strong feelings involves learning how to pause for a moment before reacting. Pausing is crucial because human brains are literally unable to problem solve when intensity is high.
Pause; A temporary stop.
Doing nothing for just 3 seconds reduces emotional intensity and creates the opportunity for thinking to occur so you can respond more effectively and less automatically.
Incorporating an affirmation practice into your daily routine can also help to soften those strong automatic responses. Check out our 10 day affirmation challenge on our youtube channel.
Learn more ways to reduce parenting stress by reading this post on our blog about Simple Parenting Tweaks that work for kids with ADHD.