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Responding or reacting to your child

September 23rd, 2008 / 3 Comments

I have this tendency to jump on my children and lecture them.

Yesterday, my daughter came home and says, “I’m tired.” This seemingly innocent remark set me off!

“You probably didn’t eat your lunch. You didn’t even drink half of your water bottle. And you stayed up too late last night. You better get your homework done earlier…blah, blah, blah….”

While it is so normal for me to just react with the first thing that comes to my head and out of my mouth, my reaction is usually not the most helpful nor most compassionate.

Instead of reacting, I should respond to my daughter.

What’s the difference between reacting and responding?

You might say it’s just a slight matter of semantics, but identifying the difference helps me take a deep breath to respond instead of react.

This is Reacting:

1. Reacting does not require thinking.

2. Reacting does not see the situation as a whole.

3. Reacting does not account for other’s feelings, only with what I need to get out of my system.

4. Reacting does not solve problems. It’s a short-term fix at best.

5. Reacting does not make you feel good about yourself as a parent.

This is Responding:

1. Responding thinks about what is really going on before saying or doing anything.

2. Responding take effort and control.

3. Responding is a fitting action for the situation, not overblown or too minimal.

4. Responding is with understanding and compassion, not harsh and condemning.

5. Responding allows you to be a consistent parent that your child can trust, not fear.

Here is how to be a better responder instead of a reactor:

1. Do I know the reason for my child’s words or behavior? Do I need to get more information before responding?

2. What are my options in responding to this situation? Is there more than one way to handle this?

3. Are there good reasons for my response? Would my child respect my response even if she doesn’t like it?

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  1. Ooh… it’s true. I’ve been guilty of reacting instead of responding many times… sometimes it may be a product of what I’M feeling at the moment (stressed out or tired), or me reacting to the endless bickering between school, homework and football practice.

    You know what? That walk is sounding better and better…

  2. Good one, Katy. I know when I am about to respond because I take a breath and mentally take a step back. I know when I’m going to react because my blood boils and I don’t turn down the heat before it boils over!

    Thx for the reminder! I need it DAILY!!

  3. […] Aesop’s Fables is a classic way to teach values. Through good stories that engages our mind and emotions, we can teach our children values and lessons much more effectively than a lecture. […]


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