A Script & 2 Ways to Diffuse Heated Moments Your child is getting upset. You get that feeling of dread in your stomach. How bad is this outburst going to be? I’m already overwhelmed and don’t have time for this. Kirk gives you two ideas to use next time to de-escalate and turn this into a positive learning experience. Abbreviated transcript in the show notes.
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Your child is getting upset. Ugh. You know that feeling of dread in your stomach. You just want to stop this now.
Just saying (or yelling!), "You need to calm down!" doesn't work. Talking too much makes it worse. Even worse? Talking too softly and calmly. Because it makes your child feel like you’re not taking them seriously.
Switch your brain from trying to control the child to controlling yourself first.
During a phone consultation, I discovered this family enjoys gardening, drawing, and hiking together. I always use what a child is naturally good at doing to help calm, motivate or build her confidence.
So when their daughter begins to get upset, mom or dad could walk into the room and say in an even, unemotional tone:
"Sarah, I need to plant two new flowers. When you're ready, can you grab a couple of waters and meet me outside? I could use your help."
Or you can simply walk into the room, hold up a sketch pad, and say quietly, "I'll be in the basement drawing if you want to join me."
Or you can yell, bark consequences, send her to her room and never change anything! Yeah, we've all done that hundreds of times. So try the first two options! Let's break this down and why I like the process:
(1) You’re not immediately telling her what to do. You are doing something yourself, leading, and inviting. You're NOT telling her to calm down. That makes kids more upset because they don't know how! And neither do you. And no one likes to be told what to do with their emotions.
(2) You gave her something she CAN do. In the moment, your child is out of control. So give your child something specific she can do--grab two water bottles. That she CAN do and it gives her a sense of control.
(3) You gave her space to calm down. "When you're ready" gives her a sense of space and ownership. Demanding, "Do this now!" always yields resistance.
(4) You invited your daughter to be with you. Instead of sending her to her room, further isolating her, you invited her to be with you. That's HUGE. Because good discipline should always lead to a closer, more trusting relationship.
(5) You reduced the shame later. Usually, your daughter would storm off to her room and come down later, doing the walk of shame. That makes it harder to apologize. Instead, you just made it easier for her to apologize.
When you see your daughter walking with two water bottles or a sketch pad in hand, she is screaming loudly, “I made a mistake. I was wrong. I want and need that connection with you.”
That requires vulnerability and trust. Because if she thinks she’s getting just another lecture or shame, she’s going to dig in. And never come to you with real issues.
it’s not about discipline and punishment, it’s about reconnecting in relationship.
(6) You lead her. Instead of demanding calm, you lead her to a place of calm. Are there other ways to do this? Absolutely. Hundreds of ways. But I wanted to spark some creative ideas and give you words and action steps.
(7) Use these scripts to turn a potentially escalating situation into a bonding opportunity. You have to do that. Or you’ll raise kids who are angry and resist, and you’ll perpetually feel resentful toward them.
(8) But how do I change? Over the past 20 years, it has become clear that the reason people who get our programs change more quickly is because they are filled with actual scripts and action steps so you know what to do in the moment. The more you listen, the more natural it becomes to change yourself and your family.