Because we are all human, it is possible that at one time or another, especially in these many days of pandemic angst, voices may have been raised. There are times when, at wit’s end, other options have been exhausted and this seems the last resort. Thinking “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me” may seem the lesser of two evils. However, science shows that when the brain is under stress or feels threatened in any way, it shuts down or works less well. There are 3 primary responses
fight, flight or freeze.
The brain is complex. The smart part (the prefrontal cortex or the “owl” in Sarah Joseph’s book. “The Animals in My Brain”), doesn’t fully develop until humans reach their mid 20s. Add to the inability to think things through each and every time, loud voices, threats or other punitive promises don’t necessarily help the 5 year old make good choices. As much as that is the intent, it can fall short.
As a parent, grandparent and mentor to many, I simply suggest that when trying to teach a child to be safe, kind and responsible, think of how an animal would react if it felt threatened in any way. Then act or speak accordingly.
Especially in these times when stress is running high, when as a parent there is more to do in a given day than there already had been, a little cooperation would go a long way. To reach that level sooner rather than later would be really helpful. I know. I get it!
Mindful moments throughout the day sound like just one more thing to do but really they set the tone for being aware. Being aware of our feelings, kid's big emotions, moments of stress and a time to step back, breathe and proceed with caution and care for yourself and those around you.
When we listen mindfully, speak mindfully and act mindfully a rough patch might just seem a bit smoother. And how, you might ask, do we do all this mindfully? Just be aware, pay attention, be present.