Change is difficult. When dealing with our children, we often experience different levels of anxiety, frustration, fear, anger, and other emotions that interfere with our good parenting intentions. Anxiety, for example, plays a big role when we afraid of allowing our children to experience the normal consequences of their actions and stop valuable lessons in their lives. Frustration can make us react with anger and accumulate quilt. Guilt can cause us to break the limits we have established, creating uncertainty in our kids' minds.
A simple strategy to neutralize those feeling is “going brain dead.” What that means is that we have to learn to respond quickly to whatever situation triggers those feelings in us. As soon as we realize our buttons are being pushed, we just need to stop thinking and maintain our calmness.
This strategy is not new. A long time ago, Christians in the first century used it effectively. They thought of their baptism as a point after which they were dead to all emotions or desires which would lead them to act in ways that would interfere with the goals of their new commitment. (Romans 6:11). When faced with all sorts of challenges, their faith inspired frame of thought was: “I am dead to anything that causes me to miss the target. I am only alive for God.”
We as modern day parents can learn a lot from this. For us, going brain dead may look something like this:
- Realize that arguing with an emotional kid is like trying to reason with a drunk person. There is absolutely no benefit in it.
- Become aware that there is a strong connection between the thinking part of our brain and the reacting part of it.
- Take a few deep breaths to oxygenate our brains completely.
- Feel relaxed. You might need to practice some relaxation beforehand in order to know how it feels. If you are a believer you can do as you pray and rest in the presence of God.
- Stop thinking. If we think, we would immediately engage the reacting part of our brain, and most likely we would not respond appropriately.
- If you are a believer, you can picture yourself at peace in the presence of God.
- Calmly say a single sentence, which you have had prepared beforehand, to address the triggering situation effectively.
Thanks for reading these lines. Feel free to comment or ask questions!
You can watch the YouTube video, “Going Brain Dead,” by Kerry Stutzman, MSW.