“How do I stop myself from getting drawn in when my child is having a meltdown?”
This week in a Connective Parenting® NVR session, a parent asked me this question. It’s a great question and one I thought I’d answer here as I know it something that a lot of parents, including me, struggle with.
If you’re hoping I’m going to say ‘here’s one guaranteed way to stop it’ I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you but keep reading, we’re not done yet!
As with everything there isn’t a one size fits all or a guaranteed magic wand to solve this one. We’re all different and our reasons for getting drawn in to the meltdown are all different, so different things will work for different people.
Having said there isn’t a guaranteed way to stop it, the obvious answer is ‘don’t do it’, but I know how hard that is. When buttons are being pressed, not responding can be incredibly hard! Particularly if you’re tired, stressed, not feeling great or in a rush for example.
Understanding our own triggers
When we get drawn in it’s because we have been triggered by the action or words and we react, however unintentionally that is. The best way to change that is to understand the trigger and try to resolve it, in the way we do with our children. We can’t avoid all our triggers, that would make life very difficult and isn’t a great lesson to our children but if we take time to understand it and resolve it we are showing our children it is possible at the same time as helping ourselves.
So how can you resolve your own triggers? I thought I’d share a selection of different ways you can work on them. What you choose will depend on you and what works best for you. That will be different for everyone, so don’t worry what your friend or partner does, do what works for you. If you’re not sure where to start, or what to do, try the idea you like the sound of. If it doesn’t work try something else. You’ve got nothing to lose from trying and potentially a lot to gain.
Here are 7 ways we can work on our triggers:
This is something I’m a fan of and personally find it very effective. It’s also free which is great. I do two types of journalling. The first is a gratitude journal. Every morning and evening I write down 3 positives from the day. It helps me to remember the good bits. The second is where I just free write on 4 sides of an A4. Sometimes I focus on a particular topic, sometimes I just write whatever comes into my head. There’s something freeing about writing whatever is in my head and writing that much I find my head clears and I gain clarity. I do this about once a week.
EFT or tapping
This is a great technique that I started using about a year ago. I’ve worked with a trained practitioner, but there are lots of free videos on the web to show you how to use it. It surprised me how effective it is if I’m honest. I was a little sceptical that tapping various parts of my body would help but it has done. I’ve used it to release emotions and unhelpful beliefs and in the moment to help me stay calm. Find out more about EFT on this guest blog from Samantha Bowley, our resident expert inside The Connective Parenting Hub where she runs monthly relaxation and EFT sessions for our members.
For some talking to someone who is independent is incredibly helpful and enables you to work with any worries or negative beliefs you might have. Depending on the situation your GP may be able to refer you to a counsellor. If not there are lots of charities that offer the service and of course you can pay privately. It is important that you connect with the person you work with, otherwise it may not be as effective as it could be.
Family or friends
Talk to a friend or family member. Sometimes just talking through an issue with someone you trust can help you resolve it or understand it better. Read more about what to do when your friends and family just don’t “get it” here.
If being stressed is one of your triggers then exercising can help to reduce it. I’m a big fan of yoga and dancing around my kitchen!
Talk to your partner
If their response to things is stressing you out, talk to them and if you need to get help get some. Sometimes we don’t see how our behaviour is impacting on those around us. Are you both on the same page?
Take a step back
Our responses can be driven by overwhelm. In a world that is incredibly busy sometimes taking a step back, stopping and assessing everything makes the world of difference to how we cope. Maybe there’s something you’re doing that you don’t need to do (for a bit at least). Or maybe you could get some help for a bit to ease the pressure. When we’re in overwhelm everything can seem like a fight or just another thing to do. So when our children aren’t ‘perfect’ it’s too much to handle.
These are just some ideas and I hope they are useful.
Don’t feel guilty if you get drawn in. We all do from time to time. Acknowledge it, apologise (if appropriate) and move on. Holding on to guilt or frustration won’t help and often just makes things worse.
Through my training and support in The Connective Parenting Hub, I can help you discover the Connective Parenting® NVR approach and we can work together, in our community of other parents who “get it”, to help create a calmer and more connected home.
If you’re a professional who works with children and families, click here for more helpful resources and support.