I’ve talked in previous blogs about the inclination of parents to offer reassurance or go into ‘fix it mode,” when their teen is struggling, and possible reasons for doing so. In my humble opinion, parenting is quite simply, a very challenging job! Unlike other jobs, parenting is “24/7,” with the “job description” and “required skills” constantly shifting – parenting requires a degree of flexibility akin to that of a “cirque du soleil” performer.
So, here we are, invested in doing a great job, and then our teen hits a brick wall and struggles. When our reassurances, hovering, and offering of solutions isn’t working, then what? A simple yet effective step is to hit a ‘pause button.” This means we don’t talk, we don’t move with our feet or do anything with our hands, we just stop for a moment.
If you can notice you are about to do what you always do, pay attention to that urge, and hit ‘pause.” Focus on your breathing. This is not about breathing in a particular way, your body knows how to breathe, let it do its thing, and you just watch and notice. Often referred to as ‘grounding,” we pull ourselves into the present, out of our heads, out of the doom and gloom, and inevitable disasters that our active imaginations have conjured up. By just watching our breathing, we get some distance on our thoughts and feelings, it’s not unlike looking at a painting on the wall, just watching, noticing, and doing nothing.
When you feel like you have landed in the present moment, shift your focus from the breath, and back to your teen. See your teen for who they are, in the moment, and what they need. Maybe they are doing just fine, or maybe they are leaning in for a hug, maybe it’s 9 pm and you haven’t fed them yet and they are having a hunger meltdown, or maybe they have 4 tests next week and they are stressed and needing some empathy, understanding, and soothing. And maybe they are giving you hints that they want a solution or some practical ideas from you – you’ll never know unless you really look. Really seeing our teen, in the moment, as they are, allows us to ‘respond and adapt’ and not ‘react.”
As with the other blogs, this does not replace therapy and may or may not apply to your unique circumstances.