Okay, now that we know that there is a reason for our short tempers and forgetfulness, what do we do about it? Well, we need to prioritise taking good care of ourselves. Science tells us that supportive, positive relationships with their parents and caregivers shield children against the fallout of stress and adversity. So, as parents, we need to make sure that we do things that give us the physical, mental and emotional resources to be the stress defence for our kids. Admittedly, it seems a bit easier said than done – but don’t despair. The solution to this complex problem may be very simple – as simple as Pause, Reflect, Engage
Pause, Reflect, Engage is a simple phrase we can use to bring the brain’s threat level down, help our prefrontal cortex to do the work it was designed to do and, in the process, make sure we practise some empathy and self-compassion. We can use it to calm our brain when we feel overwhelmed and it is also useful during quiet times to simply check-in with ourselves.
Pause is about stopping and taking a slow, deep breath (or 3 or 10). It really is about breathing. Oxygen is a gift to the brain and nervous system and a very quick and effective way to calm things down a bit.
When we ‘reflect’, we gather information about and from ourselves, as well as from our surroundings. We use ‘reflect’ to notice our thoughts and feelings based on the situation we’re in. We do this by asking the following questions:
- What is happening for me right now?
- What is happening around me?
- How does that make me feel?
Once we have that information, we can use it to better understand ourselves and the situation, and we can formulate a plan of how to look after ourselves with empathy and compassion. .
Once we have that plan for self-care, we can ‘engage’ it, or put it into action.