Updated: Aug 14
Does it seem like every time you ask your child to do something like, "Get dressed," "Come to dinner," "Pick up your clothes," or "Leave your brother alone" you meet resistance? Either your child just ignores you as you repeat yourself 20 times or they fire back with a defiant, "NO"! And here we go again... When your child says "No!" it can make you push right back and try to exert control! The problem is that simply the act of asking, no matter how reasonable, can set your child off. That’s because it’s not about the thing you're asking, it’s about a stress reaction in your child, especially if your child is stress-sensitive. From your child’s point of view, this can feel unexpected or overwhelming, triggering a split second reaction to the perceived "threat" of change or transition in your child's little survival brain. "NO!" is like a spark that can lead to an explosion.
Your power, as a parent, lies in cooling the fire rather than fueling the fire. In these defiant moments you have the greatest opportunity to teach your child responsibility, respect, empathy and cooperation. But only if you increase your capacity to stay cool yourself! So how do you cool the fire in these difficult here we go again moments?
You STOP, DROP & BREATHE.
#1 STOP - Stop talking, reasoning, arguing, bribing, consequencing...
#2 DROP - Drop down to your child's level (or step back, if an older child.)
#3 BREATHE - Breathe OUT! Then take 3 more deep breaths like you’re inflating a balloon in your belly and deflating it all the way each time.
It doesn't matter how many parenting tools you have in your toolbox if you can't open it (or even find it) when you need it! When you Stop, Drop, & Breathe you cool the fire, interrupt the escalation, and give your child space to make the transition so they can listen better and stay connected to you at the same time.