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Don't React — Respond

"Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?"
Lao Tzu
How many times a day do your children say or do something that bothers you — words or actions you know are wrong or simply irritating? And how often do you quickly correct or scold?

The Power of Parental Emotion Coaching

Imagine the following scenarios:

When Kids Cry

Perhaps the toughest thing when our children cry are the emotions their tears trigger in us: empathic upset and sadness, plus a sense of helplessness that comes from thinking we need to do something while unsure what that would be.

Your daughter comes home in tears. She can barely choke out words to describe the mean things some girls said to her on the school bus. You listen to her story and try to comfort her. If you’re really skilled, you’ll offer her attunement (Are You Okay?

Hiding Negative Feelings

Imagine that for twenty minutes, your 4-year-old has been fussing at the playground, crying and complaining and kicking sand at other children. Feeling growing irritation, you inch toward delivering a serious scolding. But you sense the watchful eyes of parents nearby, and so you suppress your feelings and handle the moment with faked aplomb.

Feeling Excited

Our kids regularly face situations that provoke strong emotion: the first day of school, playing in a big game, giving an oral report, attending the prom. At those times, it’s not uncommon for them to feel unsettled and ill at ease. They might say they’re feeling anxious. We’ve been there; we know what they’re talking about.

Mindful Parenting

Which of your "brains" do you use when you discipline your kids — your emotional brain, or your logical brain?

Are You Okay?

We say it often — “Are you okay?” — when we notice that our child’s mood seems “off,” or he’s experiencing an emotional setback, or she’s tripped on the pavement or fallen off her bike. We say it because we care; we’re concerned.

Table the Text

In this text exchange, the responder might be playful … or angry … or indifferent — we can’t know for sure. That’s because all we see are the words; we don’t hear emotion.

Emotional Reality Vs. Objective Reality

Anything familiar here? Have you ever found yourself bickering with your partner over what really happened? Debating your version versus mine?

How easily we forget that there are always two realities at play: objective reality and emotional reality.