Don’t React! – Think First … and Then Respond

Reaction usually starts out as an abrupt and unthinking response to an event, and is a major cause of communication breakdown. However hard you may try to get your children to “behave well”, when you react, you teach them to react. You can save yourself from reacting by deliberately pausing between the event and your response. This is what is meant by the proverb, “Look before you leap”. You’ll find that your children become less reactive and more responsive in return – given time.

As a parent, you’re now raising your awareness of how your own attitude affects

your children. Young ones will give you very rapid feedback, but older children may take longer to feel trust that this new you is for real! In any case, observe; reflect; thank them – in your head, at least – whatever their feedback; and prepare yourself for speaking to their listening, since speaking when they’re not in the mood for listening is pretty much a waste of effort. Think about all those lectures your parents gave you … how many years did it take before you began to heed them? If you’ve been used to lecturing your children, bear in mind that they probably feel the same way as you did.

When you drive a car, ride a bike, or even get on a bus, train or plane, you’d normally have a clear idea of your destination and the route you’re choosing to reach it. I don’t think I’m being presumptuous to say that you don’t get in the car and let other drivers push you backwards and forwards for half an hour, then get out wherever you happen to have arrived. Yet most people allow themselves to be pushed around emotionally in exactly this kind of way! Other people’s emotion-driving determines how they feel. This emotional seesaw then leads them into shouting and arguing, indignant and repeated complaining about someone or something to one friend after another, rubbing themselves time and again in the pain of having been mistreated. And through repetition, they completely convince themselves of how in the right they’ve been, and how in the wrong the other party has been. This is the pattern of their lives, event after event after event.

The reality is that we all make mistakes, and we’d all prefer our victims to give us an easy time so that we can just learn and move on. We don’t want them rubbing our nose in the dirt! So why do we do this to our children? You may nevertheless feel guilty sometimes about something which, on reflection, you feel you shouldn’t have said or done. Don’t let it chew you up! It’ doesn’t help to rub your own nose in the dirt either. Apologise sincerely, but without making a meal of it. Say what you’re sorry about, deliver it without emotional weight, then leave it – for good. And apologise to yourself while you’re about it, and forgive yourself as well. Equally, allow your children the right to get it wrong!

Imagine what family life would be like, without all those outbursts. Imagine a friendly atmosphere at all times in your household. Now go ahead and turn your imagination into reality. For extra help on this, get my book. Get on my early-bird list now to get it at the special launch price.


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