Finally understand why your child triggers your anger & what 3 simple but effective strategies help you reduce parenting triggers for good.
By Dr. Tamara Soles, Child Psychologist and Parent Coach
My fit bit is lying to me. I’ve been using it to track my sleep, as sleep tends to be the thing I sacrifice when busy, a harmful habit I’m trying to shift. This time however, my sleep score is not the culprit. It’s the “stress management” feature. Yesterday I got a score of 94 which is an A+ by any standards and yet all it took was a quick scan of some post-birthday clutter around the house and a day of sick kids and my trigger was ignited. It was a C+ day at best.
I know that overwhelm is a trigger for me but like most parents, knowing my triggers isn’t enough. Parents need effective strategies to first recognize their “trigger signature”- a term coined by psychologist, Dr. Susan Campbell, and then to reduce the heightened, almost-automatic nervous system response.
Here are four strategies to develop and practice with parents in order to reduce their trigger reactivity and calm their nervous systems:
You may suggest parents start by keeping a journal in which they jot down a few thoughts whenever they find themselves getting angry or having an intense response to their child. Encourage them to note what led up to the event and over time they may begin to notice trigger themes. This can also be done together in therapy, as it can be helpful to have a therapist facilitating the identification and interpretation of trigger themes. Knowing their trigger signature can help parents create an environment in their home that better meets their needs while also satisfying the needs of their children.
These surprisingly simple but effective tips will help parents explore their triggers and slowly change how they respond. By going beyond behaviors, we can support parents in reflecting on what these behaviors are communicating on behalf of the child and how parents are interpreting that message through their unique trigger lens. The result is a more intentional parent with a strengthened and more harmonious parent-child relationship.
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