Children provoke us probably more than adults because of their emotional immaturity. (Refer to my previous post for details on why and how we shouldn’t behave.)
However, as parents, it is imperative that we stay calm. Think of it as going to your safe room in your mind when hit with the emotional storm. You wait out the storm, assess the damage and repair with the best means available to you. What you don’t do is stand unguarded in the storm and let yourself be carried away too.
How do we access this safe place? How do we stay calm.
- Opportunity in distress
- Just as with any self improvement project, progress happens slowly with practice. In that way, the more you are exposed, the better you can manage! Consider every fight and disagreement as a practice opportunity. Be it with your partner or boss or family.
- Know yourself
- If the provocation is totally a lie, we can get angry. If there is some truth in it, we get furious. For it is ourselves that we are angry at. We get defensive. It is vital to distinguish between the two. If true, we need to humbly accept after tuning out the exaggerations. Accepting the truth liberates us to act on changing ourselves. It also frees us from anger for the person just stated a fact.
- This usually happens in retrospect. After the dust settles on every fight, analyze objectively . Take help from candid friends if unable to do this.
- Practice silence
- Pause before you react. Let the storm pass. Listen to everything said.
- Take time to filter the actual accusation, cause for anger.
- It is important to tell the child that you are pausing to understand what was just said. They should not feel ignored as it is a direct disrespect to the child.
- Unconditional love develops with this practice. We begin to separate the behavior and words from the child. We understand they need help and guidance (not more anger). You put your love for them before your bruised ego and tell yourself that these words are meant only for the moment, but you love your child forever.
- State clearly what you understood of the situation. “You really wanted to go for the night out. My objection to it has disappointed you especially when all your friends are going. I understand. I might have been too.“
- This follows knowing yourself. As you analyze your own emotions, you begin to understand others’ too.
- Problem solve mutually
- Share your concerns and difficulties honestly. Ask specific questions that give you and the child perspective
- “I had planned the meeting almost a month back and as it involves many people it is very hard to find another time. That’s why I can’t drive you to the place. I am really sorry about it. I wish I could reschedule as I don’t want to disappoint you. But I can’t see any other way. Can you help with a solution?”
- The child in most cases understands. “Oh! Ok mom. I’ll go next time.”
- Don’t offer bribes or bargains. “Next time let’s host the night out!” Or “you are such a darling. Let’s get you a candy”. This trivializes their understanding of an adult situation. A simple thank you conveys respect. It also makes them believe they helped out and increase their self worth.
Do these tips help you? Would you change anything? Let’s talk about that!