Updated: Feb 14, 2020
Imagine your child is like a boat on the waves. Sometimes they float gently, but often your child is tossed by the waves or even caught in a raging storm! Rather than jumping in the boat, and getting tossed around with your child, a parent-centric approach invites you to be the anchor - tethering your child, creating safety and putting you in the best position to help them.
You might ask, How the heck do I anchor myself when a storm is raging?
The first thing I want you to know is that your knee jerk reaction to want to jump in with your kid will keep happening! You’re human and you love your kid. Having the goal to not react isn’t doable. You don’t have control over unconscious triggers or knee jerk reactions. They happen in your brain and body before you can stop them.
The good news is there are many things you DO have control over. Here are three strategies, within your control, that help you be the anchor:
1. You have control over NOTICING your reaction.
Noticing how the here we go again feeling feels in your body. Do you feel like you’re bracing, or do you feel your shoulders tense up? Do you feel it in your head? What happens for you?
Noticing how your heart is beating
Noticing your breathing or lack of breathing
2. You have control over what you do next - once you NOTICE.
Take charge of your physiology to start regulating yourself
You can consciously take a breath
You can consciously slow your heart rate - cool right?
An important aside here. >>> The whole time since your kid got caught in a squall, you have been practicing steps 1&2, not talking to them. This is really different then what they’re used to and NOT what they expect! It makes space for them and may make them wonder what the heck you’re doing. Both these things help them start regulating.
3. You have control over the words that come out of your mouth - once you’ve become even a little calmer by following steps 1&2.
Your kid doesn’t need an advice monster, they need connection and validation.
Try these words, “I hear you. What do you think you need right now?”
Doing something different is so powerful in changing the negative dynamic with your child. The good news is that you hold the key to initiating this change.