Panic and anxiety are understandable responses when a parent sees their precious child hurting. Our brilliant brains are wired to actively respond to threatening situations. Mama and Papa Bear are ready and willing to fight for their cubs! Attack mode is not that productive though, and when our kids are resisting their education, a calm and constructive response from Mum and Dad is required. Step in Pause, Hold and Engage.
Pause, Hold, Engage is a simple phrase we can use to bring our brain’s threat level down, help our prefrontal cortex to do the work it was designed to do (think strategically!) 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 as an ongoing tool to check-in with ourselves. (And yes, we can teach our kids to Pause, Hold and Engage too – equally helpful!)
Pause is about stopping and taking a slow, deep breath (or 3 or 10). 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 ‘hold’, we gather information about ourselves and our surroundings. We use ‘hold’ to notice our thoughts and feelings based on the situation we’re in. Once we have that information, we can use it to better understand what’s happening, and we can formulate a plan with empathy and compassion. To do this, try asking yourself the following questions:
What is happening for me right now?
What is happening around me?
How does that make me feel?
Once we’re calm and our self-care is activated, we can ‘engage’ our constructive ideas and put them into action.