Handling Triggers to Help you Stay Calm

 

Considering a Situation from a Parent’s Perspective

(How our triggers prevent us from staying calm)

 

Mom: I don’t expect my kids to  listen to me all the time. I know that’s not realistic. But when I ask my kids to do something, I do expect them to acknowledge me. And sometimes my daughter Ally outright ignores me! So I’ll ask her to bring the dishes from the table to the sink and she acts like she didn’t even hear me.

My husband can stay calm when she does that… He just asks her again, or her jokes with her about having her ears turned off, and she brings her plate over.

But when I see her ignoring me, I just lose it. I mean, I can’t take that. I never liked it when people didn’t listen to me, even when I was a kid. I wasn’t as loud as my brothers and sisters so people always talked over me and didn’t pay attention to what I was saying. I’m not going through that again! 

 

Considering the Same Situation from a Child’s Perspective

 

Ally: It’s so frustrating when my mom loses it when I don’t do exactly what she says the minute she says it. Like when she wants me to bring my plate from the table to the counter. Sometimes I’m thinking about something else when she asks… or sometimes I just don’t jump up right when she tells me to… so I don’t respond right away because I’m thinking of something else, or I’m trying to come up with something to say to her. And then she freaks out.

I’m just not always thinking about the same thing she is, like clearing my plate. And I can’t think as fast as she does!

I think it’s unfair that what she wants in that moment matters more than ANYTHING I was thinking about or doing. 

 

 

How It Usually Goes (In Our Heads)

When We Lose Our Calm

 

Scenario: Ally’s mom is trying to clean up after dinner. It looks like Ally is done with her dinner, so her mom asks her to bring her plate to the sink. Ally doesn’t do or say anything.

 

Mom (thinks): I just asked Ally to bring her plate over. Why isn’t she doing that?

(to Ally): Um, Ally?? Plate???

 

Ally (doesn’t respond).

 

Mom (thinks): Now she’s being RUDE!

Mom (to Ally): Ally! I’m talking to you!

 

Ally (doesn’t respond).

 

Mom (thinks): What an attitude. She’s completely ignoring me. Are you KIDDING?

Mom (to Ally): You listen to me right now! Bring that plate over or no TV for you later!

 

Ally: MOM! That’s not fair!

 

Mom (thinks): THAT’S not fair? What about how she was treating me?!

Mom (to Ally): Tough. You need to listen when someone is talking to you.

 

Ally: You never care about me or what I want.

 

Mom (thinks): No one cares about me or what I want either. She’d better get used to it.

Mom (to Ally, sarcastically): You’re right, Ally. Life is tough.

 

Ally (starts crying and still doesn’t focus on getting her plate to the counter).

 

What It Looks Like (In Our Heads)

To Handle Our Triggers and Stay Calm

 

Scenario: Ally’s mom is trying to clean up after dinner. It looks like Ally is done with her dinner, so her mom asks her to bring her plate to the sink. Ally doesn’t do or say anything.

 

Mom (thinks): I just asked Ally to bring her plate over. Why isn’t she doing that?

(to Ally): Um, Ally?? Plate???

 

Ally (doesn’t respond).

 

Mom (thinks): How frustrating! Oh wait, I always get frustrated when she doesn’t listen… and she’s told me before that it’s because sometimes she’s thinking about something else when I’m talking to her.

(walks over to Ally and puts her hand on her arm): Hey Ally?

 

Ally (doesn’t respond).

 

Mom (thinks): She still isn’t answering me… And I hate not being listened to. I’ve hated it since I was a kid and no one listened me then either. But I’m not a kid. I can act like an adult now.

(to Ally): Hey kiddo, can you please put your listening ears on? The plate needs to come to the counter now.

 

Ally: Aw, mom!  

 

Mom (thinks): I know, I wish I could say that more often too! But it’s not Ally’s fault that adults have to be responsible. I don’t need to take it out on her. I can chill out a little. 

Ally (playfully to Ally): Ha! I’m going to start saying “Aw, Ally!” when I have to do your laundry. Would that be OK?

 

Ally (laughing): No! (She takes her plate to the counter.)

 

Mom (thinks): If I’d lost my cool, that would have taken a lot longer. Phew.

 

 

How to Make Sure You Can

Re-Set Your Expectations In the Moment

 

Your level of Yuck is going to a huge difference in whether you can re-set your expectations in the moment.

You will be able to do this MUCH more easily when you have made proactive deposits into your CALM.

This means that:

your biological and emotional needs are met and

you have set realistic expectations about situations that regularly frustrate you.

(See Step 1 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap to learn more about how to make these proactive deposits.)