De-escalation – will it solve all our problems?

how not to de-escalate

The short answer is no, it wont but it will definitely help.

So often when I’m working with parents they really want to talk about de-escalation and learn how to do it, thinking that it will solve all of their problems.  Obviously, learning how to calm a situation and stop it exploding is really important and makes a significant difference to how we all feel, but in itself it doesn’t stop it from happening again.  De-escalation is an important part of NVR, but it is part of the jigsaw not the whole of the puzzle.

What does help reduce the meltdowns from happening in the first place is building a strong, connected relationship with your child.  One where they learn they can trust you as their parents to always be there for them whatever happens; where they learn it’s OK to talk to you about their worries and concerns, and can be open about their feelings.  I strongly believe we have to help our children to use their feelings in a constructive way, acknowledging their feelings and helping them to understand them.  That may mean getting them professional therapy or reading books that help them understand their emotions, whatever works for them.  The behaviour may have many underlying reasons for it, such as early trauma, but it is not an excuse for violent or aggressive behaviour.  Fast forward to when your child is 25 and they have beaten someone up.  In court the judge isn’t going to say ‘Don’t worry it’s because you had a traumatic start in life’.  Hopefully it will be taken it into account, but it won’t stop some sort of sentence being issued because it’s not an acceptable excuse.

For adoptive parents we know the trauma that our children experienced has long lasting impacts on them, making it even more imperative that we help them understand their feelings and manage their feelings, and develop positive self-esteem.

De-escalation is therefore part of the story.  In an NVR context, it is important that we also use the other pillars of NVR at the same time.  Looking after yourself emotionally and physically is essential, it is much harder to self-regulate and de-escalate if you’re really tired or stressed.  Reconciliation gestures show your child you love them, irrespective of their behaviour.  We all want to feel loved even if we act like we don’t.  Reconciliation gestures help us as parents remember the love we have for our child and help the child know that they are loved.  In turn that helps them develop and increase their own self-esteem and know that they are worthy and deserving of being loved.

As a parent, knowing how to de-escalate certainly helped me, but I put all my efforts into building a strong and connected relationship with my son.  Continually reminding him I am there for him whatever and he can always talk to me.  Learning to self-regulate myself made such a difference to our lives and how I felt.  If you want to find out more about de-escalation and how to do it, you can read more here.

So if you’re thinking ‘NVR might work for us as a family’, you’re probably right, but only if you are prepared to potentially change how you’re parenting and know that de-escalation isn’t the be all and end all, you need all the parts of the jigsaw for it to be really effective.

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