Have you ever been in a store and your child begins to act out? How do you feel? I know when this happened to me I wanted to hide in the next aisle and act like this kid wasn’t mine. Maybe you grabbed your child and made a beeline to the nearest exit. As you are trying to deal with your child, the problem compounds because people begin to stop and stare. My son now had an audience and I started feeling like everyone thought I was a terrible parent. Can you relate? Let’s take a closer look at the dynamics of behaviors and what we can do to more positively influence the situation as parents.
Is Behavior Your Fault:
Certainly we play a role in the behaviors our children have, but the point is not to blame or place fault. The goal is to come up with a solution. For example, if my son is already having difficulty regulating himself and I make him go with me to a very overstimulating place, I am asking for trouble. If I am in a bad mood and am extremely busy and overwhelmed, I am more apt to be short and irritable with my son. In turn, the possibility that he will react back in the same way toward me is high. The way we feel and act towards ourselves and others has ramifications. Bottomline, behavior doesn’t resolve by placing blame, but when everyone takes responsibility toward finding a solution and/or recognizing it BEFORE it starts. The first place to begin is to develop an awareness about where these behaviors often raise their ugly head.
The Dinosaur Brain:
The area of the brain that is responsible for reacting to fear and stress is called the amygdala. When we are stressed or afraid the amygdala secretes hormones that prepare the body for fight or flight reactions. This part of the brain is often called the dinosaur because it is wired to simply react. It is incapable of responding with well thought out or rational responses. When your child and you are in reaction mode, the amygdala hijacks the brain and the room begins to fill with a bunch of dinosaurs. The situation spirals downward, tempers escalate, and everyone loses control. When everyone switches into dinosaur mode nobody wins.
How Do You Stop the Dinosaur?
Science has proven that the ability to quickly control the dinosaur happens when we call on the thinking part of the brain called the cortex. The cortex evaluates if the fight or flight reaction is warranted and begins to put the dinosaurs reaction into perspective. Case in point, when you get into fight or flight mode, how many of us begin to talk to ourselves using calming affirmations? It certainly works better than allowing the dinosaur to elevate the issue into a full blown panic attack. In the end, what did the dinosaur accomplish but stress and overload. It certainly can’t lead us toward a rational decision. When the dinosaur comes out, realize it and immediately begin to call on the thinking part of your brain to harness it's reaction.
Developing the habit of using our thought processes is tough especially with the dinosaur begins to rage out of control. The first thing you have to do is stop everything, breath deeply and slowly, and think. It seems so simple but in reality it is so hard to do. You may not be able to control your child and their raging dinosaur, but you have full capacity to decide how you will react and ultimately respond to your dinosaur. Your child, in many cases, will begin improve when you get your dinosaur back in the cage and start thinking about the best options for a solution.
For more information on dealing with behaviors more successfully, join us for the parent training on September 22, 2022 from 7:30pm-8:30pm. It will take a closer look at using your brain more appropriately to come up with a response that works, instead of a reaction that only serves to feed into an already bad situation.
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