Focus on ME Example #4
When a child refuses to listen or unleashes big emotions or displays irrational fears, it’s natural to feel tense. Of course our body’s alarm system is going to alert us that something is wrong.
Something IS wrong. Our child is stuck in a primitive brain and needs help!
But when your child acts childish, does your alarm system go from a gentle nudge to an obnoxious fury so fast that your own primitive army comes marching in for a takeover before your prefrontal cortex can calmly remind you that this is an innocent child you’re dealing with? Even when we know mindful leading is more effective than self-defense, how often do we still use yelling, obsessive controlling, giving in, or tuning out to help our own bodies cope with our child’s behaviors?
This happens because the heat of the moment doesn’t give our prefrontal cortex time to get involved. Our alarm systems are so very closely wired to our self-defense systems that we habitually respond with our go-to fight, flight, or freeze reaction. Then as defensive patterns ping-pong between parent and child, emotional walls may go up and even get cemented into place for years to come. It’s a very common phenomenon.
But if you’re stuck in this spiral, there’s a way to re-wire.
Think of it this way: our child’s immature behaviors can actually give us an opportunity to expand our brain’s capacity if WE are willing to work on it.
How do we (quickly) get to a place of peace so we can lead with love instead of anxiety, anger, or apathy?
The next time your heart starts to race, pay attention to it. Acknowledge it. Validate it. Even thank it for alerting you that cortisol is now swarming your bloodstream to signal crunchtime (again!).
But then stop your heart and brain from the downward spiral of self-defense against an innocent child by pausing to look deep into your child’s eyes. Do you sense your child’s vulnerability? Do you see how vitally important you are in your child’s eyes? Do you see how your mindfulness is exactly what your child needs? Can you feel empathy triggering warmth in your heart?
Now your prefrontal cortex is ready to choose which Accountability Pyramid mindset is best in this present moment.