When making decisions, we need to remember that our mindset plays a crucial role in decision-making. Decision-making is one of our “higher-order” thought processes taking place within the frontal lobes of our brains. During times of conflict, we might react with the emotional parts of our brains rather than the more rational frontal lobe. When confronted with our teens’ problematic behaviors, we might be quick to react with our “emotional brain.” However, these reactions might not yield the best long-term results.
Keeping Everything in Perspective
Our minds often jump to the worst-case scenarios when our teens make mistakes. If our child fails their classes, we start to run through many “what-if” scenarios. “What if my child fails this class, then gets held back a year, then flunks out of school? They might never be able to get a job and end up homeless!” When we start to conjure up these “what-ifs,” we lose sight of the issue at hand. Then we feel a sense of urgency that the issue needs to be resolved “right now.” The feeling of urgency can put us into a high-alert state. Though we may feel like we are rational in our thoughts, we activate our emotions and not our frontal lobes.
By keeping everything in perspective, we can regain our senses and feel more in control of the situation. We cannot control the distant future; we can only exist in the present. When confronted with issues from our child, it is essential to:
- Stay “grounded” in the present
- Focus on the current situation
- Look for solutions rather than finding more problems
- Take a break to think things over
- Agree to solutions and consequences
The important thing is not to let our imaginations run away from us. We care about our children’s futures and want what is best for them. However, we cannot control everything in their lives. We can guide them into becoming well-rounded, healthy adults by showing them how to manage their emotions when making decisions.
Self-Blame and Guilt
Often, when we find out that our children are doing drugs, feeling depressed, engaging in self-harm, or other maladaptive behaviors, we can beat ourselves up with guilt. Self-blame is not conducive to finding solutions or accessing the decision-making powers of the mind. When we blame ourselves for these issues, we cloud our judgment and turn the focus to ourselves.
Remember that we all experience these emotions. That is ok! We can deal with them by sharing with others or talking with our parenting partner. When looking to help our children, however, the focus needs to be on them. We cannot discuss compromises with our children just to alleviate our feelings of guilt or self-blame. We need to take ownership of our emotions.
Taking Ownership of Our Emotions
When working through problems with our child, remember that feelings of shock or disappointment are ours to deal with! No one can make us feel a certain way—we have to own our emotions. When kids are engaging in problem behaviors or we “catch them in the act,” we might need to take a break and come back to discuss their actions. By taking the time to acknowledge and process our initial emotional reactions, we can be there for our kids as the rational adult that they need right now.
Setting the Example
Our kids might also attempt to “twist” us into feeling guilty or try to manipulate our emotions to get what they want. During times like these, we have to be mindful of a child’s motivation for manipulation. They might be experiencing a crisis and are just looking to gain control. As parents, we can set the example by not engaging in conflict with someone yelling at us or trying to manipulate the upper hand. We can say, “I will speak to you when you are not cursing at me.” By doing so, we can give both ourselves and our child a “break” from the conflict to return to a rational state of mind.
Remaining Calm in a Crisis
When faced with a life-threatening or “life and limb” scenario, remaining calm can be difficult. During these challenging situations, like a car accident, drug overdose, running away, or other serious problems, we might need to reach out for help to get through this crisis. Being prepared can also help to keep us in a rational state of mind to manage this situation. If our child struggles with problematic issues, we can keep an emergency list of people to contact for help. We can also come up with an emergency protocol to guide us when our emotions are overwhelming.
Remaining calm when facing challenging behavioral issues from kids can be a struggle. We might want to yell at our kids or punish them for what they have done. When we react in the moment, we often are not thinking clearly. We might say or do something that we regret later. When kids are displaying challenging behaviors, we might be shocked, disappointed, or angry. These emotions are ours to manage. We can take a break, speak with other supportive individuals, talk with our parenting partner, or find different ways to “cool off.” We can set more practical consequences when we have access to the logical parts of our minds. Parenting is not easy. We can face several challenges as our kids grow into adults. Our fears about their future might get the best of us. If you are struggling to find solutions for your child’s problematic behaviors, Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center of Estes Park, Colorado, is here to help. Call us today at (303) 443-3343.