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  • Writer's pictureAshley Carol

De-escalating Techniques for Undesirable Behavior

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

All of us have been there. Your child exhibits startling or undesirable behaviors. You promptly yell, reprimand, or lecture in response. Your child responds by storming out, shutting down, or yelling. Threats are exchanged, and the whole confrontation quickly escalates and goes south. Does this sound familiar? These are the patterns that are simple to fall into. Our unintentional reactions frequently feed the same unfavorable feelings that initially led to our children's behavior, and we wind up making things worse.

Here are a few quick tips to defuse tense situations and quickly de-escalate your child onto the right path. According to parenting experts, the objective is to navigate these circumstances without hurting anyone. Every time we allow the tension to rise, we endanger ourselves by adding more ill feelings to the fire. These 5 techniques can help you find a constructive solution while calming your anger and negativity.

  1. Take a deep breath. Practice taking a deep breath before responding. At first, it's difficult! But the more you do it, the less difficult it gets. Even a three-second breath can help you respond more thoughtfully and diffuse your emotion. Close your eyes, place your palm over your heart, or touch the space in between your eyebrows to tie this stop to a physical movement that will signal your brain to relax. In those first vital seconds when a scenario emerges, this simple but crucial step will alter the way you interact with your child and eventually determine the result.

  2. Say as little as possible. Our words often don't serve a very useful or constructive purpose when we are triggered or upset in some way. Often, it's best to stay silent throughout the exchange. The likelihood of saying the wrong thing decreases as you speak less. Put off the lecture until your child's brain is more alert and relaxed. You can always address it after you've had some time to consider what you want to say in detail. When you don't communicate much, it's hard to escalate a situation! Consider the phrase "Do no harm."

  3. Lead with empathy. We are so frequently conditioned to feel that if we aren't firm, vocal, and even harsh with our children, they won't take us seriously. It is said that being "soft" will make our children "run over us" or "go wild." It's unfortunate because empathy in the face of challenging behavior demonstrates more strength and authority. When we are able to soften and show empathy, we are displaying maturity and self-control, the exact characteristics we aim to educate our children to possess. The fight will leave your child as a result of your empathic response, which will also soften their heart. This will reduce the intensity of the situation and calm your child's nerves. When your child's nervous system has calmed down, they are more open to discipline and consequences.

  4. Physically get on your child's level. Typically, you should approach your child from eye level. Even though you are being calm and friendly, when your child has to look up at you, it can feel threatening.  When you're trying to defuse a situation and soothe your child, your tone and body language count. Coming down to your child's level will help you avoid inciting a fear response in him because our brains are designed to recognize frightening postures.

  5. Use positive language. Be assertive rather than confrontational, communicate clearly, and speak with respect. While being confrontational puts kids on the defensive, assertiveness is an essential skill. Instead of using blame-laying, defensive language like "You make me so angry," consider assertive phrasing like "I feel ______ when you ______." In this situation, you own responsibility for your own emotions and let your child know what you need. These minor communication adjustments have a significant effect on your relationship.

I hope these five techniques will help you calm down and avoid disputes at home while enhancing your interactions and bond with your child. Remember that every time you practice a new technique, your brain is building a pathway that will simplify it next time. You'll eventually find that pausing and responding with empathy and intention comes naturally.

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