Why does he push my buttons?
Buttons...Triggers…We all have them.They're different for each of us. BUT our kids seem to know EXACTLY what they are and how to push them!YET with some guidance…you can understand yourself AND deepen your relationship with your child.At a recent parent evening, I asked the lively group of parents what challenges and frustrates them.A dad immediately raised his hand and asked,"Why does my child push my buttons?"30+ parents nodded in understanding and agreement.The button, the switch, the trigger - call it what you want - we all recognize it - yet it is different for each of us (and may even vary from day to day, moment to moment).When I was teaching, I was told that the child before me that "pushes my buttons" is the one that I have the most to learn from. Ouch!I invited my wise friend and colleague, Parent Coach Carole Downing, to share some wisdom about when our children trigger us.She shares, "I think all of us as parents can relate to the feeling that our child was given a blueprint at birth to all of our triggers! They seem to know exactly how to push our buttons and we can feel caught off guard by how quickly we can be pushed into reactivity instead of responding in a thoughtful adult manner."She continues, "One way to address this discomfort is to reflect on the situations that get us off balance. These are the times when we are quick to anger or feel as if we are being taken over by emotions larger than the current circumstances call for."What to do when you're triggered…1. Acknowledge that you are triggered!2. Ask yourself if there is anything unresolved from your own past in this situation.3. Are you hearing a voice of self-criticism in your head (or on your shoulder!)? Reassure and defuse that voice.4. Observe yourself & your feelings, acknowledge them without judgement.5. Give yourself empathy. It may feel difficult at first - pretend that you are your best friend and imagine the words they would use with you. Use your softest, gentlest voice and speak words of understanding, acknowledgment and empathy to yourself."When we look deeper we may be able to see that the buttons our children push are actually opportunities to heal parts of ourselves that may not have been activated until we became parents.""Doing the work to identify our triggers can help us understand the situations that may be more likely to catch us off balance in interactions with our children. A Parent Coach is trained to help you with this process.""We can think of our buttons as places that are lit up and ready to be pushed, but as we do the internal work the bright light fades and that unresolved place no longer has the power to tip us into reactivity.""A great resource for looking more deeply into our triggers and how to give ourselves empathy (essential before we can give our children empathy) is the book Parenting From the Inside Out, by Dr. Dan Siegel, M.D. He explains the brain science of being triggered as a parent and also provides a wealth of exercises to assist in working through our own emotions so we can be present for connecting to our children."Thanks Carole for sharing this!Might be a great read before gathering with extended family for the holidays! :-)
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