Sometimes you have no idea why the words are coming out of your mouth.
Sometimes your brain is actively trying to STOP the words coming out. Sometimes you hear them as if someone else is saying them. You know its not helpful, might even be unhelpful, but you still can’t stop your lips and tongue forming the words, and lungs and voice box making them audible. AGHHH.
Our brains are amazing things, they record and store memories, even ones we can’t consciously remember. They store memories using sights, smells, and sounds for when we might need them. For emergencies, physical and emotional. And when our brain senses an emergency it switches to Limbic System Only! Responding without conscious thought, until the alarms are reset, safety is restored and our logical, reasoning areas of the brain are permitted to be activated again (I’m not a brain scientist, but I have felt the process).
When our children trigger an emotional emergency in us, our brain reverts to emergency mode, searching for what has been previously stored. “What do I know about what to do and say when a small child repeatedly responds abruptly/loudly/rudely when asked to do a simple task?”
Hmmm… my brain might remember (without consciously replaying it in my mind’s eye) that when I repeatedly responded to a request to brush my teeth with an abrupt/loud/rude response I heard a loud, deep, angry voice say “How many times do I have to tell you to brush your teeth?”
To be brutally honest, when my brain flips it’s never that succinct. My lectures can go on and on. Mid lecture/nag/torrent (call it what you will) I can simultaneously be berating my child and consciously begging myself to SHUT UP and I still CAN’T. It’s like verbal projectile vomit, I couldn’t direct it into the toilet if I tried.
And yes, it’d be great if my kids just did what I asked first time, in fact if we’re asking for fairy tale wishes, I’d like them to do whatever I’m about to request them to do without me even having to ask them in the first place.
But some days I can remember to connect, get some giggles going, hold a limit at the first sign of off-track behaviour, turn things around with a smile and a wink and we all snuggle affectionately in bed. Sometimes.
The most useful thing I’ve learnt about with Hand in Hand Parenting, to prevent an out-of-body “why are you saying this?” tirade, is Listening Partnerships.
Listening Partnerships are an exchange of time with a fellow parent who will listen to us, non-judgementally, without offering advice. They hold the truth that I am doing the best I can, that I am the expert about my family, and I will figure it out. My listening partner listens to all my ugly frustrations, fears and anxieties about my children NEVER cleaning their teeth properly; loosing ALL their teeth in their teenage years; about their grandparents condemning ME as a failed parent; the dentist giving ME a lecture about brushing teeth.
When I am allowed to moan, laugh and maybe cry, about just how exhausting it is to get children into bed at a reasonable time EVERY NIGHT, I am often lighter in those moments that might have previously triggered a lioness roar.
I can think better. I’m not thrown into my emergency brain. I can remember that my children have been working hard all day, just SURVIVING the difficulties and small hurts that often come with being a child in a school environment. In school, where it might not feel safe enough to have a good cry, let off steam or rage about a perceived slight or injustice. So they bring it home to where they ARE safe to offload. Lucky me!
I can remember that they are GOOD, that they must not be FEELING good, or they WOULD be co-operative and flexible.
I might even be thinking well enough to be creatively playful, to help them giggle away some of the yuck getting in the way of them feeling connected, letting us carry on with bedtime in a more relaxed, connected, warm and affection way. Sometimes it seems like fairy tale magic.
Support groups are a great way to learn about and practice Listening Partnerships, as well as learn about Hand in Hand Parenting connection tools.
My January Parent Support Group is fully booked but if you are interested in finding out when new groups are starting please contact me for more information.
I have FREE local talks coming up soon
Laughter and Limits: Dads Only:
Saturday 18th January 2020: 10am-11am
The science behind how playing (in a Hand in Hand way) with your children can help build connection, co-operation and resilience in your children. Find out what is going one when children show you they need limits, and how it can be done without damaging relationships with your children, release tension and build closer connection, affection and understanding.
Help Children’s Anxiety, Separation and Sleep woes:
Saturday 15th February 2020: 10am-11am
The science behind children’s anxieties, how to help them release those anxieties to build more confident, resilient children. How separation anxieties and sleep issues are often linked and how the Hand in Hand tools can help with the underlying issues around them.
All talks held as Lancaster Library Meeting Room.