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  • Writer's picturePeter Bogart LPC, NCC, BC–TMH

Stuck in a Screaming Match With Your Child? Master This Deescalation Mantra

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

In almost all of my parent coaching and family therapy sessions, I have encountered a common situation or recurring theme: Great messages are often lost inside not-so-great delivery methods. As a parent of two strong-willed children, I have definitely found myself guilty of this predicament on numerous occasions.

Parents are actually really great at mastering the material or content of parenting. They know how to quickly identify when their children are behaving inappropriately or disrespectfully, and parents innately feel a need to intervene, correct, or teach in those moments. The problem is that parents are human too, and they have their own intense negative emotions when their children are repeatedly misbehaving. This causes great parents with great messages to deliver those messages with negative emotions. The result is that children NEVER receive the message in those moments. They are instantly focused on their parents’ delivery method and emotional outburst, and they miss the important content.

Imagine this scenario, a mother and her toddler son are at a library where they have checked out books numerous times in the past without any issues. The toddler decides that he does not want to return the book this time, he wants to keep it, and begins to throw a fit at the quiet library. He is screaming as loud as he can, and creating quite an unpleasant scene. The mother begins to feel a ton of negative emotions: anger, embarrassment, frustration, confusion, and instantly knows she needs to intervene, correct, and teach her son. All those negative emotions erupt inside the mother, and she yells at her son, “STOP SCREAMING IN THE LIBRARY!” Aside from the obvious contradiction - screaming at him to stop screaming - this mother has delivered a great message with a not-so-great delivery method. The toddler son has missed his mother’s intended parenting. In fact, he learned the opposite. He learned that it is acceptable to yell in a library because mommy just did it!

Make this your mantra: Escalated adults cannot deescalate an escalated child.

Get your delivery method mastered, find your own calmness, and let your great messages be received.

If you’d like some help mastering your calm delivery method, contact me today to set up an appointment.

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