One of the skills from the Parents Plus Parenting programmes which parents say makes the biggest difference in their family life is learning how to ‘press the pause button’. Essentially pressing the pause button means committing to something different, rather than repeating a negative pattern. This is what John Sharry and Carol Fitzpatrick, the authors of the programme, have to say about it.
Pressing the pause button
When faced with an ongoing problem it is easy to get caught in a pattern of reacting the same way each time. Sometimes our reactions may not be helpful and can even make the problem worse. A good idea is to press the pause button to think of a better way of responding.
1. Press the pause button
Take a step back
- Take a step back from how you normally react, especially if you find yourself getting angry or negative.
Be calm and respectful
- Although hard to do in the heat of the moment, it is important to remain calm. When you remain in control you show your child how you want him to behave.
- Take a pause and a gentle breath if you find yourself getting annoyed.
2. ‘Tune in’ to what is happening
Why children misbehave
- Children misbehave for a whole variety of reasons, such as looking for attention, expressing frustration or hurt, or wanting to take control.
- Sometimes it can occur as part of a battle of wills or a power struggle between you and your child when you both want your own way.
- Sometimes misbehaviour occurs in an ongoing situation such as a child feeling jealous of a younger sibling or because a child is struggling at school.
- Children with special needs may act out more simply because they do not have the same level of language and attention as their peers, or because they find specific situations difficult, for example, when their routine changes. Take time to tune in to your child’s stage of development
Example – ‘Tuning in’ during a tantrum
Rather than reacting if your son starts to throw a tantrum, pause and tune in to understand what he might be feeling so you can decide the best way to respond.
- If your child is tired maybe he needs you to soothe him and help him take a break
- If he is upset and frustrated maybe he needs you to appreciate his feelings and distract him with something else
- If he is angry and wants to get his own way maybe it is best not to give in to him, to ignore his protests and wait until he calms down
- If you are feeling stressed maybe it is best to pull back for a minute yourself and take a few deep breaths before returning to deal with him
3. Make a plan
- Think ahead and make a plan about how you will deal with this problem
- What is the best way to respond? What has worked well in the past?
You can find more useful tips and information from Parents Plus here https://www.parentsplus.ie/parents/tips-and-information/
Here is a great article from the Irish Times about the Parents Plus programmes https://www.parentsplus.ie/news/parents-plus-programmes-are-devised-for-and-with-irish-parents/