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  • Writer's pictureMary Hickey

Don't Just Do Something, Sit There!

In the busy life of parenting, where every cry, question, and conflict seems to demand immediate action, there's a counterintuitive but powerful approach that can lead to deeper understanding and connection between parents and their kids: the art of pausing. Yes, you heard that right. Sometimes, the best action is not to act at all, at least not right away. This principle holds true regardless of whether your child is a tween, a teen, or stepping into young adulthood.


 

The Power of Pause


When faced with emotional upheavals or challenges, our instinct is often to jump in and fix things. It's a natural parental instinct to protect and provide solutions for our children. However, by immediately jumping into problem-solving mode, we might inadvertently silence our children's voices and rob them of the opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts fully. More importantly, we may also be acting out of our discomfort with seeing our children in distress, rather than truly addressing their needs.

Pausing serves multiple purposes.


"However, by immediately jumping into problem-solving mode, we might inadvertently silence our children's voices and rob them of the opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts fully."

First and foremost, it gives us, the parents, a moment to regulate our own emotions. It's crucial to acknowledge that our feelings and experiences often color our reactions and solutions. By taking a moment to breathe and center ourselves, we ensure we're not projecting our anxieties or solutions onto our children.


 

Listening Before Acting


Pausing also opens up the space for our children to express themselves fully. It allows them to navigate through their emotions and articulate their thoughts and feelings. In doing so, they learn to understand and regulate their own emotions—a critical life skill. Moreover, when children are given the room to voice their concerns and feelings, they feel valued and heard, fostering a deeper parent-child connection.

When we rush to provide solutions, we might be sending an unintended message that we don't believe in our children's ability to handle the situation, and that their emotions are wrong and need to be fixed. Instead, we can understand what our child is truly seeking by pausing and asking clarifying questions. Are they looking for solutions, or do they just need a listening ear? A simple question like, "Do you want me to listen, or are you looking for a suggestion?" can make all the difference.


 

Encouraging Autonomy and Emotional Growth


By resisting the urge to immediately solve their problems, we empower our children. They learn to sit with their feelings, understand them, and, over time, develop the ability to seek solutions on their own. This autonomy is a gift that will serve them well throughout their lives, equipping them with resilience and the confidence to face challenges head-on.

"By resisting the urge to immediately solve their problems, we empower our children."

Furthermore, when we pause and focus on regulating our own emotions, we model emotional regulation for our children. They learn that it's okay to take a moment, to breathe, and to approach situations with a calm mind. This modeling is invaluable in teaching children about emotional intelligence and self-regulation.


 

Connecting Through Attunement


Ultimately, pausing is about attuning to our children's needs and connecting with them on a deeper level. It's about recognizing that, more often than not, what they need is to be heard and understood, rather than to have their problems immediately fixed. By practicing the art of pausing, we foster an environment of open communication, mutual respect, and deep connection.

In the rush of everyday parenting, remember: don't just do something, sit there. This simple shift in approach can transform the way you interact with your child, paving the way for a deeper, more meaningful relationship.


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