The holidays are coming, and with the fun, stress also rises. We may need to dig deep to keep ourselves regulated along with our kids. Today, I’m talking about Do-overs for grown-ups.
Over the years, Russ and I sat through many therapy sessions with our kids. While the knowledge we gained continues to be invaluable for our kids, there are unexpected gifts for us – insights and skills we use to heal, cope, and manage our own relationships and lives.
This post is the second in the series Tips Stolen From the Kids’ Therapist.
Tip #2 Even grown-ups need Do-overs
One of my favorite tools for parenting kids, and especially kids from “hard places,” is the Do-over, or the Re-do, (depending on who is teaching).
The basic concept is to give a child the opportunity to quickly correct a behavior making better choices the second time around. When the child tries again and has success, the brain literally begins to form new pathways that become stronger as this positive behavior is repeated time and time again.
Let me give you a simple example, that of course, would never happen at my house.
A child storms in the front door, throws a backpack on the floor, rushes past mom (lightly bumping into her) with no greeting or eye contact, opens the refrigerator and yells, “I’m hungry!”
Mom says, “Wow! Slow down a minute. Let’s try that again. How about a Do-over and then I’ll help you get a snack? Grab your backpack and let’s go back to the front door.” (Mom keeps a light, playful tone.)
If the child is receptive, they repeat coming in the door again with a big (maybe even silly) greeting, hanging up the backpack, and mom offering an extra good snack. When it’s done well, Mom says, “Way to go, you did such a great job, I’m really proud of you. Let’s eat a snack together.”
In The Connected Child, Dr. Purvis writes,
By actively replacing misbehavior with correct behavior in your child’s memory banks, you can help the child encode competency. A re-do “erases” the muscle memory of the failed behavior and gives the child the physical and emotional experience of substituting a successful one in its place.
A re-do can be as simple or complex as needed. As many doors as it took your child to go off course, that’s how many you have to revisit and correct each false step. The Connected Child p. 98
If re-do’s are good for kids, they’re good for adults too.
Two examples quickly come to mind.
One is the type of morning when nothing is going right, I’m irritable and snapping at the kids. I know I need to pull myself out of the downward spiral, but it’s just so hard to do. That’s when I need to step into my laundry room whisper a prayer, take a few deep breaths, walk back out and start over again. Sometimes I even tell my kids I need a do-over.
Another example happens in communication. Not long ago I said something to Russ, and as soon as I did, I realized the way I said it and the words I chose, were going to take us down a path I did not intend. As the words left my mouth, and I saw the expression on his face, there was a moment of silence between us.
It was just long enough, I jumped in, “Let me try that again. It was not what I meant to say or the way I meant to say it.” I went on to choose my words and tone more carefully. Rather than repairing a bigger problem, I was able to quickly correct it with a Do-over, which saved us a lot of time and energy.
There are many examples of this in my life, and I’m guessing in yours too.
Do you use Do-overs? With your kids? With your husband?
What are some of the best tips you learned from your kids’ therapy sessions or from parenting books, etc. you apply to yourself?
How was your weekend? Annarose had a dinner party Friday night for 40 friends, which grew to 60 later in the evening. It snowed so much that Russ had to pull some kids out of precarious places on the driveway and then plow the driveway with the tractor so they could all safely leave.
We went to a very nice Christmas party for foster families on Saturday and came home with presents for the six youngest kids.
It snowed all weekend, which was good and bad.
Russ was supposed to leave for Oregon on Saturday, but the interstate was closed. Then he was leaving Sunday, but it kept snowing and there were issues with the trailer, and in the end, he couldn’t leave. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to enjoy having him home much because he was loading the trailer, working on problems with it, and preparing to leave all weekend. Despite that, I’m very thankful he didn’t drive on snowy roads – we need him.
Now he’s home for a couple of unexpected days so we may get our Christmas tree, which will make us all very happy.
How was your weekend? Don’t forget to tell me your best tips stolen for the kids’ therapist!
Have a great Monday, friends.