It’s All About Regulation, Not Logic
Our kids’ difficult moments come from a failure of regulation, not a failure of logic.
When our kids’ act out, we either interpret these moments through the lens of “What’s wrong with my kid, why did he do that?” vs “Whats going on for my kid, I wonder why he did that?”
This not only determines our response but also wires our children for how they will think about themselves, whether they will ask themselves “Whats wrong with me, why did I do that?” or “What’s going on for me, I wonder why I did that?”
I want the second option for my kids, for sure.
When our kids hit or yell or say something nasty to a sibling… it’s not that our kids were considering, assessing, and then acting. These moments never stem from a break-down of the logic system.
What’s happening then? Our children became overwhelmed by a big feeling, thought, urge, sensation, fear… some *internal experience.* This experience just becomes too big to manage and it explodes out of their bodies as a behavior.
(And yes, if you’re wondering, this all applies to us adults as well.)
We often have a mismatch as us parents use the logic system to respond: we explain, we lecture, we ask them *why* they did something, expecting an answer. This not only doesn’t help but it infuriates a child, because we are approaching regulation with logic. This doesn’t compute. It’s as if we are speaking Mandarin to someone who only speaks Spanish.
Here’s a more general point: We overvalue logic. There’s a seeming intellectual superiority to logic over feeling, which is too bad given that our feelings happen first. WE FEEL BEFORE WE THINK. If anything should be getting our respect, it’s our feelings.
So if we cannot logic through difficult moments, what can we do? Build regulation. How? We often need boundaries with kids, things like, “I will not let you ___” or removing a child from a situation where he’s out of control.
Then what? Notice your urge to use logic, greet it (“Hello logic! Appreciate all your hard work … it’s just that you’re not useful at this moment.”) and then connect, empathize, be curious. Aim to understand, not prove. Aim to support, not solve. Aim to connect, not be right.