Loosing your temper? You want to be a calm gentle parent but in the heat of the moment you explode in anger , you shout or yell or stomp. Or when you reason with your child you can see they understand their behaviour isn’t acceptable yet the tantrums continue. The thing is , some responses are so deeply anchored in our subconscious that when triggered we blow up regardless of our conscious desire for change.
Here’s how it works: Information is always coming at us. First it goes through the amygdala(the part of the brain that regulates the fight or flight response) .The amygdala controls where it will be sent, either to the cortex (your thinking brain) or the limbic system.So when the incoming information triggers an emotional response, it gets sent to the limbic system, which is the center for your primitive emotions . Now you’re reacting from ‘autopilot’ (because logic and reasoning take place in the cortex, and you’re not operating from there!), so then a flood of hormones is released that causes you to be alarmed. You get a surge of energy, and you release it by shouting /grrr-ing/shaking your arms in the air/stomping your foot or other forms of aggression.
Once you’ve calmed yourself and are in a calm state again, your cortex reengages, and you can reason again. This causes you to feel terrible about shouting because you see it wasn’t a reasonable response. Guilt takes you over – now this isnt necessarily bad. There is alot of articles written on ‘mommy guilt’ and it’s true that as parents we often over think , over worry and magnify our guilt to unnecessary proportions.I’m going to be a little contoversial here though and say guilt has it’s place. Guilt can be a good motivator and spur you on once you’ve consciously made a decision to change.
The above is true for both adults and children , and now that your aware of how and why we all loose our temper from time to time , you can put a plan in place to help you both control your responses.
Get yourself a notebook for change work. Here you will write down what triggers you and try to find out why it is a trigger. Usually, our triggers come with negative thought patterns which go on to fuel frustration and build negative feelings. Disable your triggers, by getting to know them. Understanding our triggers and choosing to reframe the thoughts that accompany the trigger will stop it in its tracks and allow you to respond in a more desirable manner. For example, instead of “My child is driving me nuts” try “My child is having a hard time and needs my help.” If you are consistent with this, then, over time, the trigger will become deactivated.
To help your child reframe their triggers jump in with the word ‘yet’ and a beaming smile and playful disposition. So , when your child yells ‘Iahh can’t do it!’ you say ‘YET’ , or ‘I dont like carrots’ ‘YET’ !
There is a space in between every action and reaction. A small fleeting moment in most cases as reactions happen quickly , but space all the same . You can learn to acknowledge that space and expand it, which will provide you with a larger window in which to choose your response. When you find yourself in that space, try these tricks to calm yourself:
Deep breath and repeat a keyphrase, such as “gentle and calm.” or “focus”
If you really need some form of physical expression , clap your hands ( explain to your child your clapping your crazies out – thanks for the inspiration Raffi )
write in your change-work journal
There will be times that, despite your best effort, you may end up shouting ,stomping or growling ‘argh’. You’re human. Apologize to your child, tell them it wasn’t their fault and that you made a mistake , make an effort to reconnect, and move on.
Modelling this positive, ‘growth’ approach to your temper will encourage your child to approach their temper similarly.
It will take work and it’s not easy but the fact that your even interested in this article is foretelling enough .You WILL achieve this level of self discipline.
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