Your child reacts uncontrollably to something you have said. You either least expect it, highly disapprove of it, are hurt by it, or it reinforces what a terrible job you think you are doing in raising this brat. What’s your immediate reaction?
Let me guess. You react uncontrollably back. You yell, you blame, and you say and do things you swore you never would and regret it. Why do we do this when we know it doesn’t work? First because we’re human and human nature retaliates when confronted, afraid, and angry. The trick is not to feel confronted, afraid or angry—then you can respond in control of yourself.
This is where the Pause comes in. Stop yourself from doing anything. Breathe. Walk away, go for a walk, take a bath, sleep on it—take a break. This is the hardest step. “She can’t talk to me that way and get away with it! I’d be letting her know she won. She’s got to be taught a lesson or she’ll never learn!”
So let me try to convince you that none of that is true. You will only “let her get away with it” if you would rather sweep the incident under the carpet and not revisit the unpleasant event. She will only “win” if you declare yourself a loser. She will learn a lesson far more effectively when both of you are calm and she doesn’t feel blamed. Think about it. Children learn best when they are actively engaged in the learning process and feel good. When they are struggling to uphold their side of things behind a wall of defense, the only thing they can focus on is protecting themselves from what they expect—attacks from an angry parent.