Oftentimes we get caught up in life, dealing with the numerous “unexpecteds” that come our way, feeling like we are at the mercy of whatever we are faced with, leaving us not always being the parent that we strive to be. We’ve all been there and I’ve learned that those times are the perfect times to press the metaphorical reset button, pause for a second, take a deep breath and check in with one’s intention for that moment. How do you know when you need to press that reset button? I find it helpful to begin making a connection with your current patterns as a parent that upon reflection, you wish you had done differently…like raising your voice or your energy, being snarky, getting into a power struggle, slamming doors, threatening to take away electronics for the rest of your child’s life, etc. This is not for the purpose of shaming or judging oneself at all! It is so that you can notice and create awareness in real time so that you can do something different to create patterns that feel better.
By the way, these old patterns or strong reactions usually have an underlying cause such as exhaustion, lack of self care, boundaries that have been crossed, frustration around something in one’s life, etc. which I consider to be good to know so you can better take care of yourself. Recognizing your child’s patterns or when they have strong reactions can be super helpful so that you can be less frustrated and more curious about what else might be going on with them - sensory overload, overstimulation, executive functioning challenges, tired, hungry, thirsty, disappointed, embarrassed, etc.
The great thing about the metaphorical reset button is that once you realize that you’ve started down a path that doesn’t feel good, like noticing your tone has changed or that your voice is raised, you can take a deep breath, press pause and then say something like, “Ack! I don’t like how this is going at all. I don’t like how I’m talking to you or how I’m feeling in my body. I need a minute to calm myself and then can we please press the reset button so that we can start over and make different choices?” (If you’ve got a younger child or one who likes to get silly, you can even make a funny rewind sound as though you are rewinding through the interaction and start over.)
The simple acknowledgement of not liking how you are engaging can change the whole energy of the interaction, even if it’s just you feeling more clear headed and intentional about what you are trying to communicate.
Ex. “I’ve noticed that you’ve been on electronics more and more and it’s bothering me which is why I was raising my voice. I don’t want to handle it that way because I don’t like it when people raise their voice at me. Let’s have a chat about this to find a way for you to be on electronics in a way that feels better for me as your parent.” Even if your child is not crazy about what you are wanting or needing, your energy has changed, you’ve become more intentional, so how it unfolds from there will feel different because you aren’t going to be trying to create change in the heat of the moment and strong emotions.
Doing this also helps to model for your child that they can be headed down a path that they weren’t even aware they were on, pause, reset and feel empowered to change words and actions to those that feel better.
There is always an opportunity to press the reset button.