In those moments when we’re just about to lose it with our kids and we don’t really want to blow up at them, it’s good to learn how to de-escalate. It often feels way more urgent than it actually is.
Start by asking yourself “is the house on fire?” And if it’s not, here’s what you need to do instead of freaking out.
Try my 5 step protocol
- Stash your kids somewhere safe for 5 mins (if developmentally appropriate). If they are squabbling, separate them. If they need entertaining stick on an audiobook or get out a special toy you hide except for in these moments, or occupy them with a much coveted foodstuff.
- Go where you feel safe and ideally not overheard. Lots of folks use the bathroom or car if nowhere else can work.
- Call one of your Listening Partners. If you do not have one of these we suggest rectifying this immediately, but in a pinch point 4 can be done alone (or at least with pillows and a baseball bat).
- Scream/rant/cry/make some noise/thrash about. Catastrophise about how much the house is DEFINITELY burning down. Blame everyone whose fault it is. Swear like a rabid, Tourettes ridden creature. Tell them exactly how much you want to throttle your two year old and abandon your 12 year old at boarding school. Be NOT fine. Just for 5 minutes.
- Go back to your life with a miraculous capacity to keep holding the shit together.
We call this taking EMERGENCY listening. Unlike your regular Listening Partnerships, (where you schedule a preemptive time to exchange listening regularly, with the intention of pouring out the build-up of feelings to prevent yourself from losing it quite so often) emergency listening is taken spontaneously as and when needed. And in this set up you just receive 5 minutes of listening with no need to reciprocate in that instant. It’ll all balance out.
And if you are ready to create next level emotional support for yourself and get to a place where you even have an abundance of trusted listeners on hand for when you need them… check out Listening School: Our 6-week online course that walks you through the process of making this happen and learning how to use this practice to transform your parenting and your life.
Here’s what folks say about this course: