You know that moment when you can’t find your phone because you’re talking on it, there are cheerios all over the floor, the chair and the kids’ hair, sounds are coming from every direction and then your kid throws their half empty cup on the floor?
The madness that takes place…
As parents and caregivers we have all been there. In that too-much, chaos-disaster-mess. We have all reacted in some way we wish we hadn’t and wish we could go back and respond differently. We’re going to talk today about Responding vs. Reacting.
“Meagan, what is this react vs respond thing you speak of?”
Well great question! I talk to parents and caregivers all the time about the power of responding versus reacting with our kids and teens. I often describe it at a thermostat vs. a thermometer. As parents we often take the temperature of the room and then act, (that chaotic phone, cheerio, spill scene above) when we see the temperature of that and then react to it by meeting them where they are we are often creating more madness. Yelling, slamming doors, tears, etc. If we learned the power of being a thermostat with the ability to regulate the temperature we would be able to slow down and then respond to our kids and teens. Instead of yelling about the cheerios and spilled drink we take a breath and respond with setting limits, (cleaning up the spill together), environment shifts (turning down the sounds), focusing (putting down the phone).
Responding vs. reacting is a jedi mind trick that can be mastered through reflection and some help.
Three ways to check in to see if you are responding or reacting:
- Do you feel like you are in-control of your body, emotions and/or thoughts at that moment? When you are responding you are typically able to regulate yourself and think through what you are doing. If you are reacting there isn’t much thinking or control.
- Are you able to connect with your kid or teen at that moment? When you are responding you are able to see them for who they are at that moment not what they did.
- Are you being solution focused? When we are responding we are able to help our kids/teens find solutions in the midst of the problem.
This is definitely a shift that takes a lot of practice. But you can do it! If you think you might need some help with this, we can definitely give you some pointers. Come see us for some in-person tips and coaching.