Covid-19 · Fostering · Parenting

Practice

Have you ever had an uncomfortable situation or conversation ahead of you and had your mind whirl with the 873 ways things could go? Do you find yourself having many conversations in your head before actually having them in person? Have you ever approached a situation mentally rehearsing how you were going to respond?

Turns out this is a good thing!

I used to think it was just me and maybe some obsessive desire to be prepared for everything or worse yet be in control of the situation. But I have come to realize that some of the steadiest people in conflict are also people who have this tendency!

As we have attended training and learned more about how our brain works it has been fascinating to hear the science behind what we were already intuitively doing! Emotional regulation is a big topic in the world of foster care because many children who come into care have difficulty managing their emotions. Traumatic events have in essence changed how their brains work and things that connect to those events can take their brain offline. When you are triggered by something you lose your ability to think rationally and respond appropriately.

Unless you practice doing the right thing… or in my case, have thought through several possibilities and how I will respond to them.

Here is a video that explains a bit of it!

Who knew that processing, planning, paying attention, controlling your impulses and then changing your behaviour to be appropriate was such a complicated thing!

So when you are facing a challenge or anticipating a conflict it is a great idea to sit down and go through the possibilities and decide what you want your best response to be. Or if you have something that always sets you off (trigger), take time to make a plan and practice a better response that will keep you and your surroundings safe. Unfortunately we can’t anticipate everything and prepare for it, but we can learn from our mistakes.

When our kids are worried about something we have often used the “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” line of reasoning. Once we have talked through their worst case scenario and decided what they will do it doesn’t seem so scary anymore.

We all have something different that makes us behave in ways we aren’t proud of, but we all can make a plan to handle the situation better. If we keep practicing we can do the best thing even if our brain is offline and our impulses are screaming at us to do something inappropriate. In the physical world we call it muscle memory. Do something often enough and you will be able to do what used to be difficult with ease!

I am so thankful for all the training we receive that helps us navigate life with the Other Mother’s children. So many times we learn as much about ourselves as we do about parenting children who have been affected by trauma!

So cheers to all who are surviving the setbacks and learning to do the right thing in spite of brain shut downs! The work is worth it and it does get better!

And by the way we had a beautiful weekend of celebrating my daughters wedding!

In the midst of the mess,

Marny

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