It's Not "Just" A Phase - As Parents, Our Reactions Matter – StrapsAway™

It's Not "Just" A Phase - As Parents, Our Reactions Matter

A few months ago, we had an off-the-charts BAD morning that involved some familiar extreme behaviours. The underlying culprit? Nightmares of fire/lockdown drills haunting my son’s sleep for weeks, contributing to severe anxiety about school.

The teachers at my kids’ school are wonderful, so I spent some time talking with one of them that morning. After being amazing and listening to me, he said, “Don’t worry, he won’t go off to university still afraid of drills”.

In essence, it’s just a phase and it will pass. That got me thinking.

Phases do come and go. My boys are no longer hitting other kids, or crying because the milk is wet, or burying electronics in the garden (see tip #7).

But I do worry, because these aren’t JUST phases. While the behaviours may change, if we consistently handle them poorly the emotions experienced can affect them far into adulthood. This can contribute to depression, poor self esteem, unhealthy relationships, and even self harm, addiction, and destructive behaviours. I wish I was joking.

While the risk is greater with emotionally intense children, it’s true for all kids that our responses matter. It’s not our job to stop negative phases immediately and at all costs, but it is our job to provide safety, strengthen relationships (with others and self), listen, and teach. Then repeat.

Some phases can be embarrassing. Screaming in public places, hitting during play dates, being wild in stores… They can also be exhausting. Annoying behaviour, frequent emotional outbursts, fighting between siblings…

We might think we need to stop it NOW, and resort to tactics like being overly harsh and threatening, or hitting back so they know what it feels like, or being demeaning, or dismissing emotions. While for some it may stop negative behaviours in the moment, what they remember and learn from it is not helpful long-term.

My son is no longer acting out because of drills. Together with his teachers, we used the tactic of providing emotional safety, strengthening relationships, listening, and teaching him, to move through the phase.

The result: He’s proud of overcoming his biggest fear and runs happily into school each day - atleast for now 😅

Leave a comment