We Feel and Then We Think

Posted by Todd Bloomquist on 3/3/2020

I can remember it like it was yesterday. My daughter was very upset. She stomped into the kitchen, blurted out that she no longer required our services, and stomped down the hall to her room, making sure to slam the door extra hard. 

Ever been faced with a parenting situation like that? I think it is pretty safe to say most of us have had some kind of a kid experience like this one. At that moment, of all of the words we might say as parents, what is the child most likely to hear? Honestly, not much. When any of us are stressed (heart rate above 100 beats per minute, tension in our necks, raised voices, etc.), our brains move to the fight, flight, or freeze part of our brains, also known as our survival brain. This is very far away from our thinking brain. 

Feel, Then Think

The parenting tip for all of us is that we feel and then we think, not the other way around. How we feel significantly changes the way in which we think. Making good decisions, following parent directions, even doing well on homework assignments is all dependant on how we feel. 

The New 3 Rs

For the brain to function at it’s best, it has to have two conditions going on. The first is that the brain and the body need to be regulated or calm. Once the brain is feeling safe and calm, then it has to be in relationship with the adults around it. This is about familiarity, safety, and trust. This causes the brain to be ready for the most functional part which is reason or thinking. Regulate, Relate, Reason. 

For my daughter to respond well to my parenting instruction, I need her to be regulated and relating to me. Only then can she reason. After all, isn’t that what we want for our children? To be reasonable? I think I will give her 10 to 15 minutes before I knock on her door - I need to make sure I am feeling calm so I can help her out.