Mama! MAMA! MAAAAMMMAAA!
You feel your blood pressure rise with the pitch and volume of the call. Your body responds as if this is a life-threatening situation when, in fact, they simply cannot find their favorite pair of alien socks. Your are ready to fight a bear, but your precious child stands in front of you. Do you attack? Do you get frustrated at the misalignment of it all? Do you put in earbuds and act as if you never heard anything?
None of these are great options because all of them cause a tiny but effective fracture in that moment with your child. Instead, try one of these:
- Breathe – I know this sound simplistic, but it is essential. When you are anxious, your body sends all the oxygen to your muscles and your reflexes so you can run or fight the bear. This means the reasoning part of your brain is cut out of the loop. It isn’t getting any oxygen. Deep, slow, intentional breathing redirects the oxygen to the whole brain and resets your body’s fight-or-flight mode. I breathe in for 3 counts and out for 3 counts until I feel my muscles release and my heartrate settle.
- Drink – Not that kind of drinking! Take a drink of water, or coffee, or soda. Put a peppermint in your mouth. Again, we’re getting your body to settle down so you have time to think. It’s really hard to yell with water in your mouth. This also redirects your body’s attention from frustration to focus.
- Reframe – Ask yourself, “Will this be a big deal in a week?” Things seem like a much bigger deal in the moment. It’s easy to get stuck on things going a certain way, but will it really matter that much in a week? If yes, then it’s probably too important for a snap reaction. If no, then it’s probably not worth a blow-up. As my friend says, “Major on the majors and minor on the minors.”
- Take a Time Out – Not a “punishment” time out, like a sports time out. Time outs are called by coaches to communicate, discuss strategy, or inspire the team. You are your own coach, so call a time out. Set a timer so that everyone knows when it’s time to talk again. My explanation goes something like this, “I want to hear what you have to say and respond in love, however, I am stressed at the moment and need time out. I’ll be back in 60 seconds and we can talk then.” I usually set the Alexa timer so we can all hear it, and then go to another room to breathe and reframe.
- Watch a Puppy Video – I know this sounds crazy, but a counselor recommended this and it actually works! Whip out your phone, pull up cute puppy videos on YouTube, and enjoy the cuddly cuteness. Your kids likely will want to join in. This is a great quick redirection for everyone. Then, you all can address the situation at hand in a calmer, more productive way.