Here is a helpful bit to try out next time you notice your frustration rising with your child.
I’m taking about that moment when things aren’t going the way you want or need them to, and you can feel your annoyance level rising towards that point where you’re likely to say or do something you will later spend time making relationship repairs for.
Do some simple math or anything with numbers.
Say the 3x tables to 100. Remind yourself of all the prime numbers to 30. Recite your social security number to yourself.
I know it sounds weird… and thinking about numbers does something specific and helpful in our brains. During normal day-to-day interactions, we tend to operate out of our cortex and pre-frontal cortex. These are the brain areas responsible for accurately perceiving the world outside of us, reasoning, and regulating the lower parts of the brain.
When something isn’t working with our kids, our frustration and annoyance build. Blood flow lessens in the thinking areas and floods into the limbic system that sits in the middle of our brain. The limbic system controls (among many other things) emotions and our flight/flight/freeze responses.
Working with numbers is a cortex level activity, so choosing to spend a minute to re-engage your thinking brain helps you to return to a state of caring calmness.
This allows you an opportunity find your clear thinking parts and to engage in the moment at hand with your children in a responsive, rather than reactive, manner.
Many are the days when 30 seconds spent on the 7x tables has allowed me enough brain regulation to say to myself, “Hey, this isn’t working. I think things are about to go badly. What do I need? What does my child need?”
Doing numbers is a simple and reliable brain trick.
And, I want to acknowledge that simple doesn’t mean easy. First, you have to remember to try the trick – a challenge in an of itself when we are in emotional ramp up. Plus certain days and situations are just super challenging. Those are the times when I resort to the 17x tables to find and hold onto that thinking part. Drastic measures needed in drastic situations!
In this short video, Dr. Daniel Siegel shares his “Handy Model of the Brain” and how we “flip our lids.” I love this 2:31 minute explanation. Watch it to help the idea stick and be more available next time you feel your frustration starting to build.
If working with numbers is helping – but not enough to move you back to a calm state – or you’re finding yourself too flooded and frustrated to remember to try out the idea, schedule a free strategy session with me.
We’ll talk about what’s going on in your family, and how I can help you develop a full toolkit of strategies and technique to help return yourself to calm so that you can create a lot more cooperation, ease, and connection in your home.