top of page

Decide Ahead


The Background? Have you ever noticed that you feel out of control or act impulsively when you are angry or have fear about something that might or might not happen for your child? Well, you are. These two emotions are so primitive as to be ‘hardwired’, which means they are automatic and super fast and trigger behavior with a high survival value. Our bodies go into a state of fight-or-flight, and our lizard brain takes over, literally bypassing the thinking brain and leaving us without the capacity to think and reason. This happens to all of us. Some of us may manage it better than others, but, I repeat, it is hardwired. So, first of all, if it's happened to you, give yourself a break! In those moments, our child begins to look like the enemy. We can no longer see their perspective. Our agenda shifts from teaching our children and nurturing their healthy development to winning the battle. It’s not uncommon at that point to resort to threats or punishment. How to Address It? One option is to plan ahead for instances where you know you are triggered. Think through the outcome you want, and then decide what you will do ahead of time. Then, and sometimes this is the trickier part, follow through on your plan: firmly but kindly. Even think matter-of-fact if that helps. Trust that your plan is solid because you made it with your thinking brain, and stay calm. Your Script in Action

  • When your chores are finished, I will drive you to your friend's house.

  • When the computers are off and the table is set, I will serve dinner.

  • I will help with homework on Tuesdays and Thursday, but not last minute.

GOT A MINUTE? Think of just one or two incidents where you know that you overreact. Make a plan. Stick to it and hold firm. You can do it! And once you've done it a few times, a habit will start to form and it will be easier.


bottom of page