Today I want to inspire you with a parenting store cupboard essential that you might’ve forgotten or not come across before. The humble pause.
Etymologically, pause is derived from an old Greek word that means to stop. So why would we stop?
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When things get tricky in the home, we’re often looking for a solution.
- What do I do when he says this?
- What do I do when she grabs my face like that?
- What do I do when I’m telling him not to do something and he says, ‘You’re a dinosaur…’?
I’m going to give you five reasons why not doing but pausing is so helpful in these situations.
#1 – When you pause, you model a mindful approach to life as a whole
Say you’re finding that your children are going from 0 to 60 in a split second because they come up against something frustrating – or something isn’t going their way in life.
When you model the pause, you model a mindful approach. You model to your child – and you model to yourself, to your own subconscious – that this is not an emergency. (Unless it is, of course, then you must take action!)
And how valuable is that?
This brings so much reassurance. Everyone who’s involved with this situation feels grounded and reassured by that.
Modelling is really powerful. I don’t know about you, but I used to think that modelling was about the longer term – that we’re meant to model behaviours for our children to emulate 20 or 30 years down the line. But it’s really not like that at all.
We often see instantaneous change in children’s behaviour, when we parents model something truly different.
#2 – The pause gives you time to take a breath
And I mean that quite literally, because when you take a breath – and even better, a deep belly breath – this activates your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that is more emotionally attuned, more rational, and isn’t going to lead you down the road of fight, flight, freeze or faint.
Taking a breath helps you not to react, walk out of the room, go into analysis paralysis, or just go into overwhelm.
Understandably, these are the kinds of reactions that can so easily come up for us parents.
A pause helps you to change your emotional state so that you can have time to breathe and respond with more maturity, with more self-possession, and in a more empowered way.
#3 – The pause gives you time to observe the situation
I’ll give you a really great example of this.
Once, in my parent and child group, there was a little boy who was on the floor. And the first thing I noticed about him was that he had a brick in his hand – a wooden brick – and he was pushing a girl with this brick.
And, of course, the first things that went through my mind were:
- I can’t let this be happening.
- That looks bad.
- That looks dangerous.
- It looks a little aggressive.
- I mustn’t let that happen.
That was my fight, flight or freeze response.
And then I remembered my own teaching, and I paused.
I had a look and I saw that this boy was building something quite intricate and that the girl was standing perilously close to that intricate construction.
I understood that the boy had a brick in his hand because he was building, not because he wanted to hit her with the brick. He just happened to be building. She came too close and he was pushing against her with the brick, which he happened to have in his hand.
I understood the whole situation much better just through pausing. I could respond appropriately to what was happening.
#4 – Pausing also creates time for things to resolve themselves
Sometimes we don’t need to solve something. The situation will move on of its own accord.
Two children who are tugging at something might find their own resolution. Not every situation needs us to step in and teach children a lesson about it. (In fact, it’s probably wiser to talk about things afterwards.)
Pausing allows situations to get back into flow – and you open the space for that simply by pausing.
#5 – Pausing allows you time to be inspired by more powerful, effective responses
By pausing, you can move away from just saying, ‘Stop doing that.’ ‘Don’t do that.’ ‘Haven’t I told you not to do that?’ and so on.
You will find space for things like: humorous responses, problem solving with your child, or acknowledging their point of view.
For example, with the boy and the brick, I said to him, ‘Oh, it looks like you don’t want her to knock down what you’re building there.’
He nodded, and then I could say to him, ‘Well, do you know what, you can ask her to step back.’
Now, he was a boy who didn’t like saying that much and so he didn’t say anything. So then I said to him, ‘Would you like me to ask her to step back?’ and he nodded.
So I asked her, and she stepped back, and the whole situation was resolved – all because of the pause.
If you’ve found this helpful and would like a little bit more information about what comes next, after the pause, then I’d really recommend downloading my free guide – Solve the Struggle with your Kids. It will give you a range of options for things to say and do after the pause.
And if you download it now – see below – while this is still fresh in your mind, you’ll give yourself even more tools to keep in your store cupboard for when things get a little tricky at home.
Solve the Struggle with Your Kids
The 6 Wise Parenting Powers
Download my no cost guide to raising a secure and happy family.