Recognising when you and your daughter are having a difficult time – and what to do
I am thinking of you all as we start another week in these new circumstances. Since school closed we have had 2 school weeks and 2 weeks of school holidays. Getting used to a very different day to day routine both in school weeks and in school holiday weeks takes a lot of time, energy and patience. For some these last few weeks could have brought some positive experiences, however for others when you add in your other responsibilities whether that be other children, work, elderly relatives etc. it is bound to have felt incredibly overwhelming and challenging.
If you have found yourself ‘flipping your lid’ or your children doing the same then you are absolutely not alone!
Flipping our lids – what does it mean and why does it happen?
Our brains develop from the bottom up. Our emotions live in the bottom part of our brains which is why from birth babies are excellent at letting their emotions out. The emotional part of the brain is already in action and getting stronger by the day!
The top part of our brains is where all the decisions get made, it is where impulse control lives, it is what helps us to socialise and it basically helps us to follow the rules. Now this part of the brain is still under construction until well into adulthood – researchers state around 25 years old.
So this is why babies, toddlers and children will seem fine one minute and then at the drop of a hat they are on the floor rolling around and giving those lungs a workout. They have all the emotions but have not yet developed the strategeis to regulate those emotions when they start to bubble and keep the lid on.
Teenagers – well their brains undergo some remodelling during adolescent years which also makes them more likely to flip their lids when they start to get challenged by strong emotions or a challenging situation.
And lastly, adults – although we will have developed ways of dealing with challenges, know what to do when we feel worried, stressed or frustrated we are only human, and we may on occasion also ‘flip our lids’. Being hungry, tired, overwhelmed etc will all contribute.
Right now we are juggling a lot of change, which means that you are navigating how to manage your own emotions and responsibilities as well as your daughters emotions and reactions.
My top tips for helping keep everyone’s lids on:
- Acknowledge the emotion – Name it to tame it – you may be feeling that the outburst is unreasonable (your daughters or your own), however just listen, label the emotion that you can see or hear and acknowledge it. It is ok to feel emotion, it is the expression of it that we need to support and redirect.
- Move it or lose it – I always think, if in doubt – get out! Once you have listened, labeled and acknowledged then try to get your family member or yourself moving. Changing your physical state can change your emotional state. Put some music on and dance, get your shoes on and go for the daily walk, do some stretching. Anything you can to get the body moving.
- Redirect – once you have helped your family member or yourself to feel calmer then redirect to an activity you know is something they enjoy.
- Later (sometimes much much later – when a lid has been flipped it can take a long time for someone to feel calm again) talk to the other person about what might have triggered them to feel the way they did. Feeling the emotion is not what we want to change, it is what happened as a result – the actions that were taken when they flipped their lid. Is there something that they could do differently next time? Important – get the person who flipped their lid to problem solve this one so that they can start getting used to thinking about how to handle situations differently in the future.
Some useful websites which go over the ideas –
https://www.drdansiegel.com/pdf/Refrigerator%20Sheet–NDD.pdf – aimed at primary aged children but the concepts work the same with teenagers.