Buying Time

March 26, 2020

A Mom in my Moms of Teens group asked me during our group Zoom session this morning if I can suggest ways that parents can help when our kids get “triggered.” What do we mean when we use this word? Certain situations cause us and our kids to react impulsively without a filter. This can get us into trouble, and it can rupture relationships, which is the last thing we want to do. If your child gets triggered by something, see if you can find a quiet moment later in the day during which you can reflect together on what happened. The goal is to teach them “to buy time” between the trigger and their response. If they can freeze time, it will allow them access to the more rational part of their brain. But how?? Can you ask your child to take three, deep breaths before responding to the trigger? Would your child be willing to run up and down the stairs three times before responding? What about having “The ANGRY Clipboard” all set up with a dark marker attached with a string where the angry child can go scribble fiercely for two minutes before responding? Or for older kids, can you teach them to step outside and run around the block or run upstairs and hop in the shower? Or blast music for a bit? We’re just looking for how to build in a l-o-o-o-o-n-g pause so that the brain can calm down and select a thoughtful response rather than resorting to an impulsive reaction. This is SO hard for adults so imagine how hard it is for kids and teens. Praise them each time you witness some approximation of that desired behavior. And MODEL this path for them. They learn best by watching you so be mindful of your triggers during this stressful time.