Do you respond or react?
This month, as we continue to OWN our behaviours, our theme is Being Present. Today we consider how being present can help us to respond, rather than react.
So, many regrettable parenting interactions happen when we react rather than respond. Reacting means acting in return. Responding means answering in return. In order to answer, you need to have a moment of presence to think and hear what was being asked.
Today, we’re asking:
Do you respond or react?
It is so easy to react in the moment with the emotion of many moments that have come before and many fears of the future. We blame someone else for our behaviour:
If they would listen the first time, I wouldn’t have to scream!
I could probably keep my cool if I didn’t have to be the bad guy around here all the time!
If anyone said ‘Thank you,’ I wouldn’t be so grumpy every night!
When we are present, we can recognize when we fall into blaming others for our behaviour, we can plan something different so that we don’t just thoughtlessly react.
Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning said,
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
When we make time to choose our responses, we create growth and freedom as we move forward. We save ourselves from that recurring argument. We encourage our kids and show them that we believe they are capable, rather than shaming them and shutting them down.
What does that look like in real life? Well, remember the Family Meetings we discussed last week? As you begin to solve problems as a family and outline the new expectations and consequences for behaviours, you can also figure out a new script for the situation. This might include the words that Mom and Dad will use to cue a certain behaviour, as well as respectful language for the child to use (instead of back-talk or eye-rolling). It also needs to include language for Mom and Dad to use instead of yelling. Some suggestions might be:
– Try that again
– Sounds like you are choosing to be on your own for a while – come back when you have control over your body.
– What do you need to be doing right now?
– Where do you need to be?
– How do we solve this problem?
– Looks like you are wanting some help controlling your hands for a bit
– When you are ready to take responsibility in our family, you’ll be showing me that you are ready to have access to these privileges. I’ll look after your _________ until then.
– What are you able to do right now to make this situation better?
Having scripts ready to use sets the whole family up for success. It gives us the opportunity to stay calm and be open to responding. It gives our kids the opportunity to answer and make a better choice and it shows them that we believe in their abilities. It takes our emotional reaction out and lets us be present to respond in the moment, tuning in to our kids emotions and supporting them right here and right now.
This week: Build on the family meeting momentum from last week and plan what you will say in the heat of the moment to stop a reaction and create the freedom to respond. Plan your new scripted response to one of the most frequently recurring arguments and stay present to being a part of the solution, rather than the problem.
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