One of my favorite tools for self regulation comes from my mentor, Dr. Laura Markham. She suggests we stop, drop our agenda, and breathe when we feel triggered or annoyed. Children are childish, imagine that!, and we will feel triggered!
Here’s an example from my morning. After a mostly relaxing morning getting out the door, we hit a snag and were running a few minutes behind. As you can imagine, I was feeling flustered. It’s worse for me when things are on track and then go sideways vs an all over off-track start to the day.
We were driving to school waiting at a stoplight and up ahead there was a maintenance man in the street blowing leaves.
My daughter saw him up ahead and piped up from the backseat, “Mama! Slow down! There’s a man in the street! I don’t want you to hit him!”
My internal voice immediately said these things:
We are at a stoplight! I can’t slow down!
Don’t be a backseat driver!
Right? Thanks, kid, because otherwise I would run him over!
I’m not an idiot! I see him.
This means say nothing. There was no emergency. There rarely truly is.
Drop Your Agenda.
I felt triggered because being corrected is hard for me. I grew up constantly being corrected and that little girl in me resents it and get defensive. This has nothing to do with my daughter. My agenda was to let her know I’m a capable driver and don’t need her help. Recognize I’m the boss here!
3 deep breaths can give you that pause which is the difference between a reaction and a response.
I did those things. I’ve been practicing a long time now so it happens pretty quickly – although not every single time because I’m human, after all.
Then I said, “Thank you, honey. You were feeling worried for the man in the street!”
She said. “Yes! That’s a safety issue!”
Right. She saw it as a safety issue because she knows you aren’t supposed to hang out in a busy street! She didn’t see it as an issue of me not being able to see him, being a bad driver, or anything else.
How have you used Stop, Drop Your Agenda, and Breathe?