Why is it that our children, the people we love the most in the world, can trigger us so easily?
We all have hot buttons—situations or events or even words our kids say to which we react strongly, or even overreact. One second, we feel calm and at peace. The next, we are flooded with emotions and spinning out of control.
Often, we feel ourselves behaving in a way that is irrational. The triggers might even seem absurd. We cannot pinpoint exactly why we feel so angry over seemingly trivial things that our children do or say, but nonetheless, our emotions are hot.
Other times, our triggers feel justified. We can support and justify our anger with example after example. Nonetheless, we dislike feeling so angry and out of control and would rather respond to our children calmly.
Why is this? Why can things our children say and do make us overreact? And what can we do about it?
Fortunately, when we understand why triggers occur, we can take steps to eliminate them so that we can...
Do you revisit conflict when tempers have cooled?
Or, when you child has a giant emotional meltdown, do you breathe a sigh of relief after it passes and go about your business?
Don't poke a bear, right?
The truth is, the gold is in the second half.
When you and your child resist a conflict with clear heads, you can find solutions.
This is where growth happens, and where skills are learned.
It is where you and your child can begin to appreciate each other's perspectives, and it is where you can find solutions absent the flood of emotions that were couding your thoughts in round one.
In our parent community, Resilience-Based Parenting,™ we help kids develop a strategy called “floating.”
This strategy is equally as valuable for adults as it is for kids, so in today’s Self-Care Sunday tip, we encourage you to be a floater.
Being a floater means that you float amongst various social groups. You have friends from work, friends from college, and friends from the rock-climbing gym.
This resilience skill helps kids avoid friendship drama and adjust when friendship dynamics become difficult or unpleasant, or when certain friends simply are not available.
By the time we are adults, the friendship drama is (hopefully) resolved. But being a floater is helpful for adults for other reasons.
First, different friends “match” different parts of our personalities. You might have friends who love to exercise, and this encourages the part of you that wants to stay healthy. You might have friends who are highly...
We are all put in situations in which we lack confidence. Perhaps we are taking up a new hobby, meeting a new group of people, or embarking on a new career.
In today’s Self-Care Sunday tip, we take a look at how we can show up as empowered, positive versions of ourselves, even when we feel uncomfortable. After all, how we show up in these situations can determine whether we ultimately enjoy the experience or walk away feeling awkward and even embarrassed.
Showing up as our best possible selves is a skill, one that we teach in our Resilience-Based Parenting™ course, and one that all adults and children can benefit from learning.
Consider, for instance, what people look like when they do not have this skill. They can come across as combative or defensive, when really they are just feeling insecure. Oftentimes, they laugh at themselves, but not in a good way. Rather, their self-deprecation makes people around them feel uncomfortable.
The good news...
It’s hard for anyone—much less a child—to take constructive feedback when flooded with negative emotions.
This is because our thoughts and our emotions always match: You cannot think positive, constructive thoughts when you are overwhelmed with negative, destructive emotions.
So, if your child is angry or frustrated, hold off on initiating “teachable moment” conversations or attempting to shift your child’s perspective.
Wait until they have had time to regroup emotionally.
Save the discussions about your expectations, the child’s questionable behavior, or the child’s bad attitude for later when they might actually be able to hear you.
When your children are upset, your best bet is to meet them with patience. If the situation calls for you to set boundaries, do so, but remain steadfast and calm in your word choice, demeanor, and tone of voice.
Let your child know you are listening and patient by saying things...
The next time you find yourself upset about something—really triggered and overwhelmed by an emotion—try this ...
See if you can describe what the emotion looks like.
What color is it?
What shape is it?
What texture is it?
How big is it?
Does it have a surname?
Get as many details as possible about your anger or sadness or frustration as you possibly can.
When you shift your mind into this analytical place of trying to describe what the emotion looks like, you put a little air between you and the emotion.
You let off the steam, and without even realizing it, you calm down.
It’s not possible to be swept away by a negative emotion when you are engaging your analytical mind.
In today's Self-Care Sunday tip, we encourage you to consciously move in the direction of what you desire rather than away from what you fear.
When making decisions, we have a tendency to either move toward desire or away from fear.
Moving toward desire can be scary.
After all, if you do not achieve your desires, you might feel embarrassed or rejected.
And yet, leaning in the direction of what you want is the only way to achieve your dreams.
If you are constantly moving away from something out of fear, you will almost certainly never get what it is that you actually want.
Moving toward a desire is always the path for an authentic life.
Moving away from fear is always the path for a life of unspoken and unrealized dreams.
So many people talk themselves out of their dreams because they think it feels better to not want them than to want them and not achieve them.
But this is not actually true. Pretending like we don't want things only makes us feel disempowered and apathetic about...
Plenty of adults know the feeling of having a big emotional burst of anger, only to later regret their words or actions. Most of aren’t taught skills for navigating these big emotions, so even though we later feel shame, we struggle to “control” our anger well into our adult years.
Anger is a big emotion. It is always accompanied with tension, so when it bursts, it can be a flood. And while anger is not a bad emotion (after all, it is appropriate to feel anger when we are mistreated), I think we can all agree that life would be a bit better if we didn’t unintentionally hurt people due to explosive words or behaviors.
Teaching kids how to stay in control, even when they are angry, is a big task, particularly because most adults are not taught this skill. It requires more than just one or two conversations, and it is usually a years-long work-in-progress.
We can start, though, by asking them to reflect back on how the build-up feels. If...
We all get to choose the beliefs by which we live. In fact, changing beliefs that aren’t working for you can be one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself and one of the most empowering skills you can teach your children.
Let’s talk about what beliefs are. Beliefs are thoughts that we have decided are true and immutable. We have many thoughts over the course of the day.
In the morning we might have thoughts like, “This day is going to be great! I’m going to get so much accomplished. My kids are so sweet, and I love them so much.”
But by the end of the day, we might have entirely different thoughts: “My kids are driving me crazy. I didn’t get anything done. This day was lousy.”
Our thoughts vary based on our mood and circumstances.
Beliefs, though, are thoughts that persist. Beliefs are the thoughts that we have accepted as true, that we have collected evidence for, and that we use to make...
We all get to choose who we want to be friends with, and who we don’t want to be friends with. This means that at some point or another, your child will want to be friends with someone who doesn’t want to be friends in return. This can be hard to come to terms with, but there’s really only one way around it: Back off, and find somewhere else to initiate a friendship wherein feelings will be reciprocated.
But what about that murky gray area where your kids have friends, but they feel like they are outsiders? When they feel like the third wheel?
And what happens when your children are the ones who are making others feel left out?
Groups of three are particularly difficult because someone always feels a bit like an outsider, so it's worth starting a conversation with your kids about how they show up in friendship triangles—whether they are on the inside or the outside.
The strategy for being on the inside is...