Parenting Tip: When Things Get Chaotic, Slow Down
When things get chaotic in parenting, pressing pause and slowing way down can help you see what is actually going on and take action from a calmer place of clarity and intention. The tendency can be to act/talk/move quickly or get big with your energy because you want the discomfort of the chaos to end. It might feel productive and like you are doing something to stop it, however, in my experience, this only adds fuel to the chaos fire. The most effective and efficient use of energy during times like these is to slow down, almost as though moving in slow motion. Why? Because this utilizes the thinking mind to observe the present moment from a different perspective and helps bring clarity around what is actually going on, as opposed to what you might think is going on. There is often a big difference!!
A resolution or solution is far more likely to be found when there is some separation from the chaos, even if just for a few seconds, to see the situation from a more curious and intentional perspective. The first thing to do is notice when the energy shifts within you, perhaps acting/talking/moving fast. Those are always my signals to press pause and slow down. What do you notice? What is actually going on? What actually matters in this moment?
PS - You are not just supporting yourself in these times by employing this strategy, you are also modeling for your children that sometimes they may feel totally out of control in a chaotic situation and they too can press pause and slow down in order to remember to use whatever tools they have in their toolbox - like asking for help, taking deep breaths, removing themselves from the situation for a moment to calm, etc.
A child is having a tantrum or a meltdown because something isn’t working the way they want.
On the surface, it just looks like a strong emotional reaction that might not seem proportional to the frustration of the thing not working. The parent might make comments based on the thought that the child shouldn’t be so upset over this little thing.
However, if they slow down and pause for a second, it can help to get curious about what else might be going on underneath the behaviors and emotion. The child might be tired, hungry, thirsty, overstimulated, etc. It can also help to think about what else has been going on prior to this because maybe they have used all of their energy in other ways and have nothing left to support their emotional regulation causing them to be responding from a developmentally younger place.
With these things in mind, the parent’s response becomes much different - more deep breaths, compassion, empathy, patience, allowing for the clean emotions they are experiencing without needing them to not happen.
This shift in energy also helps the parent to not get sucked into their child’s intense emotional energy so that they can offer support or space for them to cycle through this frustration faster.
And isn’t that interesting…slowing down to help the chaos dissipate faster.