Golden Rule #4: Develop strategies for Controlling Negative Emotions in Any Situation
When emotions (yours or your child’s) create a barrier to resolving a situation, it is important to have strategies in place, to ‘defuse’ the moment.
1. Especially in times of crisis, or when they are ‘in trouble’, don’t ‘stand over’ your child.
Standing over your child may well win reluctant obedience, but our aim is to guide and share, rather than dictate and dominate. Instead, physically try and get down to your child’s level (crouch, sit on a low stool or on the floor), then talk. For an excellent example of this approach, watch a really good kindergarten teacher in operation.
2. If you are very upset or angry about a behaviour or an incident, allow some ‘time out’ to calm yourself down and regain control before ‘dealing’ with the incident.
Emotional responses are never as effective as considered ones. Though you might feel the need to address the incident immediately, it is far better to deal with it effectively and with a positive resolution, than to take action that is fuelled by unmanaged emotion.
As a guide, it takes about 20 minutes for a heightened emotional state to subside, as long as there is an absence of further aggravation.
Give your child some time on his/her own, to think about what has occurred, and then find a way to disperse the anger before discussing the incident. Say something non-threatening like “We both need some time to calm down and think a little bit about what happened. When we are both calm we can have a talk about it”.
3. Avoid asking “Why?” as your first question
“Why” is usually interpreted as an accusation demanding an excuse and puts the child on the defensive.
Begin by simply asking “What happened?” and follow with something like “Tell me all you can” or “How did you feel”. The “Why?” question will follow naturally, but without forcing the justification – which may be unclear.
Questions which draw out the truth without accusation reduce the level of ‘threat’ the child is feeling and lead to a resolution far more efficiently than threats or badgering.
What should you do if you suspect that your child is lying to you? Read on for more tips on the next page.