Using a scripted response to control my emotions
After breaking up the 20th argument of the day, my resolve to handle it with grace and kindness often disappears. By that point I am tired and tend to respond with more emotion than wisdom. Over time, I’ve found that preparing a scripted response for issues that come up not only took the emotional pressure from me, but also helped my kids deal better with their problems.
I know I am not the only parent who deals with the same behavior issues over and over with my kids. I also know I am not the only one who starts to lose my mind while dealing with those issues repeatedly.
I often start my day with optimism and grand intention to not yell at my kids. But dealing with countless arguments every day leaves me exhausted and reacting with irritation.
While I, in no way, have gotten rid of my emotion entirely, using a scripted response has been extremely helpful in keeping me calm and focused. Here are some examples of scripted responses I use with my kids.
When I asked my 3-year-old strong-willed son to do something, it was guaranteed that he would argue, whine, or throw a fit. (Now at 4 years old it happens less than 50% of the time, so praise the Lord for progress!)
This was an ordeal that would have me emotionally exhausted by 10 am. Having a script of what I would say when this happened took the pressure from me in the moment. I didn’t even have to think anymore, I just responded with a script. If he whined either in response to me asking something from him or him wanting something from me, I simply said, “try again.”
This kept him from getting any kind of reaction from me — which is what he wanted. This was also my son’s cue to rephrase his request to “may I have a snack please?” or his response to “yes momma.” After months of consistency, he usually changes his attitude very quickly after my response.
“Are you telling me something good about…”
A situation that comes up often throughout the day is when one of my kids comes to complain about a sibling. My response is to stop them and ask “are you telling me something good about someone or asking for my help?” At that point they often turn and walk away, and I know they were only trying to get their sibling in trouble. If they do need help I have them ask for it correctly.
These are obviously just small snapshots of a few common moments in our house. There is usually training or consequences happening along side of my scripted response. The script just allows me to disengage my emotional response to common situations.
What are the most common issues with your kids that push you to respond poorly?
Take the time to sit down and write out a simple response that you can use next time it comes up, and a plan for any action (training or consequences) you might need to take after you respond. If you need a little more help to decide situations might need a scripted response, you can learn more about your triggers here.