Do I typically help my children by responding or do I typically make things worse by emotionally reacting?
When we learn and understand that our children’s behavior is a symptom of the root cause of them being in their amygdala part of their brain, which I call the little brain.
This allows us to meet our children with empathy, kindness and compassion.
When our kids enter their ‘little brain’-they automatically(without choice) enter FIGHT, FLIGHT, FREEZE mode and when we see and hear these behaviours- this will automatically emotionally trigger us.
In this moment we have a choice:
Do I stay calm as a parent and help them?
Do I let my little brain take over and enter FIGHT, FLIGHT, FREEZE mode with them?
To avoid this emotional trap, use this parenting strategy- THE 5 R’s
1. Recognize– My child is experiencing Big Feelings. They have entered their little brain.
They are not in control of their behaviour right now. I need to help them.
2. Respond– I need to effectively respond, not emotionally react to my child. I need to use self-talk and breathing to calm myself.
3. Regulate– I need to help my child to co-regulate their emotions or remind them how to self-regulate.(reminders, holding space, supportive comments, keep it short and to the point-they are in their little Brain and not hearing too much, non verbal communication is important)
Offer a touch or a hug.
4. Relate– I need to seek to understand and use empathy to validate what they are experiencing and feeling. I need to meet them with kindness and compassion.
“I know this scary” “I understand why you are angry” “I would be too” “this sucks”
5. Reason– Once my child is no longer consumed by Big Feelings then I can reason with them, and TEACH(not punish) them.
I can remind and show them what behavior is acceptable and what is not acceptable, I can help them learn from these situations.
*The 5 R’s is helpful, and the 5th R-Reason only happens when your child is in a calm mindset to have this conversation.
This can happen hours later or the next day, or when you are reading a book or watching a movie, whenever an opportunity for teaching occurs.
Our default as parents is to try to “fix it” instantly, to stop the emotional overwhelm our child is feeling but our children just like us adults- need to get that “emotional stuff” out of our bodies, it can’t be suppressed, or it builds up.
Emotional releases are sign of being healthy, not that there is something wrong with us.