DO YOU REACT OR RESPOND?

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2009

Making a conscious choice.

Your choice will make the world of difference to your child’s development.

American motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said there is a big difference in the words ‘react’ and ‘respond’. ‘Just imagine going to the doctor and having him say “You are reacting to the medication”,’ he says. ‘Then think about going back to the doctor two weeks later and having him say “You are responding to the medication”.’ The same can be said about our style of parenting. While both ways evoke a result in a situation, only one can provide a positive approach when dealing with our kids.

We’ve all been there: it’s late, it’s been a bad day, you’re stressed, tired and ready to snap, and then disaster strikes… your child brings a detention note for you to sign. Your gut reaction might be to yell, scream, punish, and demand. Although tempting, none of these actions will lead to a positive situation.

In cases like this, remember two actions: mindfulness and pause. Zenhabits.net advises that ‘mindfulness’ means watching ourselves when something happens that might normally upset us or trigger an emotional reaction. ‘Pause’ means we don’t have to act immediately just because we have an internal reaction. We can pause, not act, breathe. We can watch this urge to act irrationally arise, then let it go away. And then respond.

What is the desired result?

When dealing with issues with our children we need to ask one simple question: What is the desired result in
this situation? On the topic of strength-based parenting, Charlie Appelstein, author of No such thing as a bad
kid, says that when we respond to our children instead of reacting to a situation, we’re focused on strength building
and not flaw-fixing. The long-term goal is a positive one and doesn’t desire an instant fix. He adds that responding shows our children that we believe in them before they have tried, and haven’t adopted the ‘seeing is believing’ mentality. According to Charlie, this approach produces optimism in the situation, which in turn feeds possibility in the mind of the child.

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