Tag Archives: buttons

What to do When Your Button Gets Pushed

We all know what it’s like to lose it with a child. When that button gets pushed, you see red, your authority and sanity flies out the window and you say and do things you swore you never would. It feels like there’s nothing you can do about it—but there is. Once you know that button belongs to you, and your reaction is your responsibility, not your child’s to change so you can stay calm, the job of uncovering that button and identifying it is the next step. It’s a peeling away process, and the layers to be peeled are not at all obvious for most of us.

After a button-pushing situation, take the time to dig. It’s easiest to start with your reactions. If you didn’t like your reaction, write down what you did.

Reaction: When that happened, I blew up and screamed.

Then think about how you felt. Your emotions are one word. I felt like I was a terrible parent is a thought. The feeling might be hopeless.

Feelings: I felt used, resentful, unappreciated.

Okay great, you have identified your reaction and your emotions.

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Dec. ’18 Q&A – Big Emotions, Angry Outbursts and a Must Read

Handling Big Emotions and Understanding the Behavior

Q. We had an episode with our 5 1/2 yr. old son. For the past 2 years, we have tried every approach. Our son is smart but immature. We feel he lacks confidence and tends to hold things in rather than talk. I tried to get to the root cause but he still won’t budge (one might say stubborn). Tonight he was off the wall jumping on chairs, interrupting when I had someone over and had to help them work. No matter how many times my husband or I ask him to stop jumping on chairs, he would say “no never”. He has a temper – will hit, throw, slam doors, spit and call us “stupid” or say “never” when we’re explaining how we want him to stop hitting and start listening. However, his tantrums have become less frequent and recovering has become quicker except tonight. Usually he’ll go through the tantrum and then start crying. If we try to challenge him and he’s in the mood, he’ll do it.  But most of the time, he’ll say, no let’s do something totally different or I can’t or don’t know how. If I say I’ll show you, then he’ll whine and say he’s a baby. He always has a comeback. What do you think?

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When Your Kids Push Your Buttons

We all know the feeling. Our child says or does that certain something, we see red and react in ways we regret. We feel out of control, blame the child, and set up our next power struggle. We “go on automatic” and lose our maturity and authority. But we have a choice. We can either punish our child for pushing our buttons or take a look at what our buttons are, why we react the way we do, and take responsibility for our behavior—like an adult.

You know your button has been pushed when:

  • You engage in the “Road Rage of Parenting”
  • You hear your mother or father saying those words you swore you never would
  • You feel enraged, hopeless, guilty, resentful, etc.
  • You catastrophize and project your child into the future
  • You know you could never have gotten away with what your child just did

Our child’s behavior triggers an old wound. Our buttons were planted long ago from messages we took in from our parents’ reactions to us. Those old painful emotions get tapped, it hurts, and we retaliate—but we don’t realize what’s happening. To stop this automatic reaction, first we must recognize that our reactions are caused by our own perceptions.

We believe that our child’s behavior causes our feelings and reactions. “You make me so mad. How many times do I have to yell before you’ll listen?” The unintended message sent is you are responsible for my emotions and my behavior. We leave out a critical piece—the assumptions we make.

The assumptions—perceptions, thoughts, and judgments—we make about ourselves or our children (He never listens, She’s so mean, I’m a terrible mother) are the culprits that provoke our emotions. We feel mad because we have fears and thoughts that hijack our emotions. Reactions inevitably follow.     

                                  

Your behavior makes me THINK you are being mean

and AFRAID I have not taught you how to behave properly.

It is this PERCEPTION that causes me to FEEL angry and then to REACT.

 

Reframing our Assumptions:

We can’t change our feelings, but we can change our thoughts—the assumptions that provoke our emotions and reactions. No one can “make” us mad. We can reframe our assumption from my child is being a problem, to my child is having a problem. The result is a 180 degree switch in perception, a shift from anger to compassion.

If a child yells, “You’re so stupid”, it’s because the child feels frustrated by something. If it pushes a button, the adult may react with, “Don’t you ever talk to me like that! Who do you think you are?!” The parent feels threatened and has taken it personally. She may have experienced a parent, sibling, or teacher making remarks like, “What are you stupid or something?” or “That’s not a very smart thing to say” enough times that the message sticks—I’m stupid, I’m not good enough. If no button gets pushed, the parent can acknowledge, “You wish I would say something different. You don’t like it when I ask you to do something you don’t want to do” and then redirect the child appropriately. This parent is not taking the child’s remark personally and can remain objective. She sees it as it is—an expression of frustration or powerlessness and deals with it maturely.

 

When your button gets pushed:

  1. Stop, walk away, do nothing (yet)
  2. Breathe deeply at least 3 times
  3. Wait until both you and your child are calm
  4. Go back over the situation and problem solve (do a “do-over”)

To defuse your button:

  • Name your feelings
  • Identify the assumption you made to cause those feelings
  • Reframe your assumption from a judgment to an observation
  • Your reframed assumption should prompt compassion instead of anger
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    Seattle and San Fran

    I’m heading out tomorrow to Seattle to give 4 different workshops at the La Leche conference in Redmond. And then on Monday, I leave for San Francisco to do a number of workshops and talks. Please check out my newsletter – http://www.bonnieharris.com/newsletter.html – to see details and contact information in the Upcoming schedule section. There are still openings in the workshops and there are two different talks open to the public. I’d love to see you there and tell your friends and relatives in the area.

    One of the talks is on my most popular topic: When Your Kids Push Your Buttons, based on my book by the same name. The other is called Getting to the Root: Understanding What Your Child’s Behavior is Trying to Tell You. We all have this idea that behavior is either good or bad and if we react negatively to or punish bad behavior, it will motivate our children to behave better. When has that ever worked? Ever work on you? Not unless you were afraid of what would happen if you didn’t. We ow it to our children to understand what they are trying to tell us and realize that misbehavior means your child is having a problem, not being a problem.

    Also there are still openings in the workshop When Your Kids Push Your Buttons on 2 mornings from 9:30-12:30. This can be a life-changing workshop when you understand that when your child pushes your buttons, she could be teaching you the most important lesson you’ll ever have. read more