Like many parents, you might go to extremes to control situations so they won’t get out of hand. You might not intend to go overboard, but so much frustration has built up that any little irritation sets you off like a warrior on a battle for control. Or a battle to make things stop now. Overreactions are emergency alarms without the emergency.
You can’t see it coming, in an instant you are on an unstoppable mission to fix, contain, punish, or halt anything that upsets your sense of well-being, imagined or not. Overreactions are sure signs of stress, you need a break! Overreactions may also come from the fear of losing the day you planned, or the life you planned and came to expect. If you are overreacting to gain control, you are actually losing control. Your parenting choices need considered, thoughtful decisions instead of an automatic 911 call. When your blood boils, you’re not aware how your behavior creates a toxic environment around you and the rest of your family… nor how it worsens a troubled kid’s behavior.
- Are you so stressed and traumatized that you just can’t stand it anymore and want your child to stop misbehaving now, immediately, yesterday?
- Is every little minor thing a reason to pull out the heavy artillery and throw a fit?
- Do you play a victim or martyr to get sympathy? You probably deserve sympathy, but this is not the way to get it.
- Do you overwhelm difficult situations with your own explosions?
It’s common for parents with really difficult kids to get stuck this way, so forgive yourself if you overreact, and stop and look at what this does to your relationships and interactions with your troubled child.
- If you’ll do anything to make your child stop a challenging behavior, might you go too far with little things? Will you call the police because they slammed the door, or will you strike them because they slammed the door?
- If you need sympathy and attention, will you share so much personal information about your child, that your child starts hearing about it from others? How will this make them feel? When others hear you constantly complaining, might they consider that the problem is you?
- Do you mirror your child’s bad behavior to show them what it looks like? Are they interpreting this the way you hope, or are you lowering yourself?
Overreactions sabotage opportunities for improvement. They terrify everyone (all family members); your family may start to hide things from you, or downplay things, just so you won’t overreact. When family members feel a need to keep secrets, they don’t speak their minds. Someone takes sides against you to counterbalance the negativity. Now you feel less in control and receive less of the support you need for your own well-being.
If you feel exhausted and hopeless, or lash out as a way of coping, you are carrying significant stress and/or depression. Before you completely lose control, and lose your self-respect and rightful authority as a parent, take care of yourself and get help for both your physical and emotional exhaustion . Always, always make sure you are emotionally centered and healthy, or you will never be able to help your child become healthy.
Remember, your child and family needs you to be 100% together. Let some things go for the greater peace. Center yourself so you can notice when your child is doing well and offer praise. When centered, you are flexible, patient, compassionate, and forgiving. This draws people towards you, to look after you and care for you. Go ahead, aim for sainthood. Just starting down that path would start to make things wonderful and healing for everyone.