Our kids throw tantrums sometimes. It is a pretty normal (if sometimes embarrassing) part of being a parent, dealing with meltdowns both in public and at home. The expectation is that over time these tantrums stop, but really they just lead to a different kind of fight later on as our children head into the tumultuous teen years.
For some teens, this is a simple matter of hormone-driven outbursts of anger and usual sullenness. Others may have legitimate behavioral issues that can be difficult to manage. In both cases, we have very little control over what our children do or say.
What we have to be worried about is what we do and say. When faced with a tense or emotional argument we can have a tendency as parents to give knee-jerk reactions. Occasionally those reactions will not be the ones we wish we would have given into.
But there is some good news: you can backpedal and it is perfectly acceptable. Yes, really.
The Difficult Task Of Changing Our Minds
Science says we are bad at changing our minds. Studies have proven that human beings as a whole are stubborn, set in their ways and have actual neurological reasons that they struggle with the act of the backpedal.
This can be even more difficult when we are under stress or worried. Let’s say you are having trouble with your teenage son. He has been acting out, getting into trouble and you found out that he got into yet another fight.
Your reaction is probably to start shouting, to let him know how exasperated you are, to ask him why he can’t just be good for once. Is that productive? No. Is it a hard habit to break? Absolutely.
The good news is that we are not slaves to our impulses. Learning to backpedal is within every parents reach and it just might improve your overall parenting.
How To Backpedal Gracefully
- Stop, even if in the middle of a sentence, and ask yourself, “Is what I am saying productive? Is it patient? Is it right?”
- Ask yourself, “Do I have all the information? Could something else be at play here? Do I understand my child’s position?”
- If you flew off the handle, take a deep breath and apologize for your reaction.
- Offer your child a chance to explain their actions, thoughts, and feelings.
- Use the opportunity to add new information to find a better solution to whatever problem you are facing.
Your child hasn’t developed fully yet and their brains are wired differently. They may not be capable of controlling the conversation but you are. So next time you find yourself spiraling, step back to a more thoughtful position. It will be teaching your child a valuable lesson in the process.
Tyler enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere.
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