I have a question for parents… and just so you know, the answer will be “yes”, okay? Here’s the question: Has your teen every had a damaging experience in a situation, and you just knew it was going to happen? In other words, you weren’t surprised when it transpired, maybe you were even “counting down” until the meltdown, tantrums or shut down took place?
Of course you have. As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else, and you probably have an ability to predict how your child will react in certain situations. This can be frustrating, because although you may know what’s going to happen, you may not always feel prepared to handle it when it does. Today, I’m going to teach you how to prepare yourself (and your child) for better experiences that will leave you both feeling happier and more in control of the situation.
Perhaps your child “acts out” in crowds, throws a temper if they don’t get what they want, or completely shuts down if things don’t work out the way he/she would like it to. Whatever it is, as a parent you already know what that *thing* is that sets your child off, right? Now let’s turn the tables and look at YOU for a minute. How would you respond if you weren’t prepared to deal with whatever it is in your own life that you don’t enjoy? What would it be like for you to be “thrown in” to something that you’re not ready for (speaking in front of a group, leading a meeting, etc.), without any advance notice or opportunity to get ready? You’d probably be quite annoyed and upset. Not many of us enjoy being put on the spot. The same goes for your child… the only difference is that he/she may not be able to articulate what they’re feeling, and therefore, aren’t able to deal with the situation properly when it occurs; hence, the meltdown and freaking out.
One of the ways in which you can support your child in responding more positively in these situations is by setting your child up for success in advance. What does that mean? Setting your child up for success means that you take some time before the triggering situation to talk to your child about how he/she feels and coach them around how they can have an enjoyable and positive experience. Here are some questions you can ask your child:
- How do you feel about the situation?
- Why do you think you feel this way?
- How would you like to feel?
Discuss some ways in which your child can approach the situation better. Maybe you and your child can even role-play the situation, which would be a great way for your child to successfully “experience” the situation before it actually happens. Providing your child with opportunities beforehand to be ready for