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Choose to Connect and De-escalate the Situation
Your response changes your child’s!
You’ve picked up the cues by noticing that voices have gotten louder. Or, that there’s a slight whining tone to your child’s voice, or he’s starting to forget the rules.
Now what? The next step in emotion coaching is to connect with your child and draw him to you. How you respond matters. The key question is, does your response de-escalate the situation or innocently escalate it?
If you coming roaring in like a bulldozer you’re going to push your child further into the red zone. So take that deep breath, relax those shoulders, and monitor the tone of your voice.
Move in with the idea in mind that you are coming to help.
Your child’s body language will tell you how you’re doing. If he looks away, thrusts out his jaw, melts down, strikes out, runs away, shuts down or cringes he’s viewing your advance as a threat. And not as someone coming to help. If he looks up at you and turns to you – you’re connecting.
What exactly does this sound like?
Here’s the situation; two children want the same toy. If as you move to intervene you say, “I see you both want the same thing.” The children immediately know you are coming to listen and help. If on the other hand you come roaring in like a fighter pilot and immediately demand, “Who had it first?” Or, “Give it to your sister, she’s younger.” Or, “If you are going to fight over it, I’m taking it away.” The kids will immediately know they’re under attack and will be ready to battle with you.
Here are some more examples. We want to stress this is the beginning – it’s not the end of this interaction. It’s merely a step – one of five to win cooperation.
|Situation||Event||De-escalating Responses||Escalating responses|
|Sibling and peer relationships||One child grabs a toy from another||What did you want to tell him?||Stop fighting with your sister.
You can’t do that. Give it back.
|Needing attention||Two children both wanting mom or dad at the same time.||I know you both want mom.
Do you want to know when I can play with you?
|Right now I have to feed the baby.
You need to wait until I’m done.
If you are going to act that way go to your room.
|Handling a disappointment.||You say, “No” and they start melting down.||Did you have a different plan?
I know you really
It’s hard to wait when you really want something.
I said “No” and I mean it.
No, you can’t have it.
So check your response:
- Does your approach de-escalate the situation or escalate it?
- Does your child know you are coming to help when you approach or plant their feet ready to do battle?
- Are you connecting and drawing your child to you?
Your response really does changes your child’s and what happens next.