Trigger Happy!

As a parent you probably spend a lot of time trying to work out what might be the cause of negative behaviour, anger or sadness in your child. And, the NVR training gives us a framework for proactively looking for ‘triggers’ that might cause a meltdown.

You might be so busy with this that your brain is working overtime to try to get to grips with exactly which little thing it was that tipped him or her over the edge. Perhaps you are dedicating hours to putting techniques in place to avoid a trigger in the future, or to help your child manage their feelings better next time. This is fantastic, and as a good parent, of course you should be doing that.

But, one thing we usually don’t spend a lot of time on, is understanding ourselves and identifying or dealing with our own triggers. Even though taking the time to work on our own responses to certain behaviours is hugely beneficial.

As the adult in the relationship, you will be aware that certain things really ‘push your buttons’. It might be a simple act, such as your child leaving their belongings all over the hallway or being cheeky that sets you off. It could be enough to get your blood boiling – even though, out of context, this behaviour is a relatively minor issue. And, chances are your child knows exactly what is your ‘trigger’ and keeps it up because it gets a reaction from you.

Whatever the reason for this particular misdemeanour, if it is clearly an issue for you, it’s worth doing a bit of self-analysis to figure out what it is about this behaviour that is causing you to lose your cool.

Once you know what your triggers are, there are two approaches to dealing with them. You can either try to change your reaction to it – reframing your thoughts and planning the way that you will handle yourself next time. Or, you can remove the trigger altogether. Something as simple as installing an additional shoe rack could result in far less shouting and fewer arguments.

I recommend working on adapting your reactions slowly; correcting habits can be hard work and will take a few weeks to bed in. Maybe try handling one trigger at a time until you start to notice that it doesn’t affect you anymore.

Developing immunity to your triggers will make a massive difference to your relationships. Especially if you are experiencing situations where aggressive behaviour from your child, is triggering aggressive behaviour in you. We tell our children that we shouldn’t allow other people’s conduct to affect our own, and ideally, we should make that a reality for ourselves too.


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