The other evening, my son was really having a hard time listening. I don’t know about you, but when my child isn’t listening, it can trigger lots of different emotions, such as frustration, annoyance and even anger. In these moments, since it’s easy to interpret his lack of listening as a form of disrespect, I consciously work on being mindful of how I am perceiving his behaviour.
If I view it from the perspective of him being intentionally disrespectful and choosing not to listen to me, it’s very easy to react from my anger. However, if I step back and become an observer, I notice something completely different – I notice that he’s tired.
When kids have a tired brain their ability to listen and respond is significantly diminished. They don’t have the capacity to engage with us the way they would when they’re well-rested.
It’s important to recognize this because children, mine included, won’t say, “I’m really tired, and I can’t listen properly because my brain is exhausted.” If I even suggest he might be tired, he will vehemently deny that his words and actions have anything to do with being exhausted.
Instead of interpreting his lack of listening as disrespect, which would cause me to react, I choose to view it as exhaustion. I know that his tired brain is hindering any possibility of a rational discussion. My focus becomes staying calm and avoid taking his words personally, so I can help him achieve a relaxed state.
If there are issues that need addressing, I save those conversations for the morning. After a good night’s sleep, he wakes up transformed, like a totally different person!
This is what I know: Tired brains can’t rationalize. They are reactive, lack emotional regulation and aren’t open to listening and learning. Remembering this will help you approach their behaviour with empathy and patience, allowing you to support them in the best way possible.
Until next time…
28 Sep 2023
Building Emotional Connection, One ‘Refresh’ at a Time
Emotions run high. Meltdowns occur. Tantrums happen.
You can’t have conflict resolution without first facing conflict.
You can’t have redirection without first creating connection.
When you have moments of despair, they need repair.
One effective strategy for enhancing conflict resolution, fostering connection, and facilitating repair is to incorporate ‘refresh’ into your resource toolbox, much like refreshing a computer when it’s bogged down and not functioning properly.
To illustrate the effectiveness of using ‘refresh’, let me share a recent circumstance involving my 11-year-old son.
The other day he experienced a really tough moment as we were about to leave the house. He wasn’t getting something he wanted within the timeframe he was hoping for. While this wouldn’t typically bother him, on that particular day it triggered an emotional storm! I should also add that he had some late nights that had obviously caught up to him, although suggesting that to him wasn’t an option.
I needed to remain calm and steady in his emotional storm – not an easy task, especially when I was frustrated, realizing we needed to leave and I wasn’t even ready! Nothing I said was helpful or comforting. I took a deep breath and stepped away, giving him the space to feel what he was feeling.
After a few minutes, I bent down to his level, knowing this wasn’t the time to question his behaviour or engage in a conversation about it. Instead, I recognized that he needed to hit the ‘refresh button’.
I looked at him and said, “I understand you’re upset that things aren’t going the way you wanted them to. I’m feeling the same way.” (this validates the emotions felt and adds connection)
I presented two options:
1. Continue with our back-and-forth.
2. Take a deep breath and ‘refresh, starting over.
He chose to ‘refresh’, and we did just that without the need to have a further conversation. We hugged and both felt a weight lifted. (this is our way of creating repair)