The Truth about Parenting Triggers (From Parent Cue)

by Matt Youngstrand on

Some great content from our friends at Parent Cue, you can see the article on their website as well!

Pre-kids, you were likely different from the person you are today—you were able to take things in stride, let the stresses fall away quickly, and easily pivot when plans changed. If calm, cool, and collected was a person, it would be you standing there rested and worry-free. 

Then you had kids.

Now, loud noises may upset you, whining and meltdowns feel like a personal assault on your parenting efforts, and endless piles of clutter might have you transforming into The Incredible Hulk. On any given day, you may experience rage, exhaustion, and despair bubbling under the surface, and any one of those feelings can be unleashed based on your kid’s behavior.

The National Alliance on Mental Health defines an emotional trigger as “an action or situation that can lead to an adverse emotional reaction.” Triggers are often influenced by past experiences, activating childhood wounds or the stories we’ve always told ourselves—they’re a stress response. And these old feelings show up when we’re uncomfortable, leading us to experience anger, fear, and resentment toward those around us.

Some of the most common triggers in parenting include:

  • Our kid’s big emotions
  • Our kid not listening to our instructions
  • Our kid talking back
  • Lack of personal space
  • Messes
  • Loud noises

If you find yourself losing your cool, you are not alone. Here are some tips to navigate your triggers:

Identify your triggers and what activates them.

Take some time to think about the things you react negatively to throughout the day—when do you find yourself overwhelmed, annoyed, or angry most? Write those down. When you have a list, you can anticipate your stressors and start regulating yourself before you blow up. 

Get some distance and head space.

Sometimes, you just need to walk away, especially when you’re feeling some strong emotions. Take a few minutes to yourself in another room to regulate yourself by breathing slowly and deeply, focusing not on what triggered you, but on something else entirely, like the sensations in your fingers, toes, or another part of your body. If you have more time, spend it doing something calming you enjoy before stepping back into the parenting ring. 

Replace limiting beliefs with what is true.

Remind yourself your kid’s behavior has nothing at all to do with your ability as a parent. Tell yourself that what your kid does or doesn’t do, what they say or don’t say, has nothing to do with your worth as a parent. You are exactly the parent your kid needs and you are equipped with everything you need to parent them.  

Remember, while our kids are learning and growing, we are, too. Learning about ourselves while learning how to parent well is hard, yet important work. Acknowledging the effort it takes to raise the next generation with intention while extending yourself grace through the process is no small feat.

Tags: kids, parenting, teens, high school, middle school, preteen

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