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The Slammed Door: Understanding that All Behavior is Communication

Summer is a time for connection, growth, and fun, but it can also bring moments of heightened emotions and unexpected behaviors, especially in children. As parents and caregivers, it's essential to remember that all behavior is communication.

family playing soccer

Imagine this: You’re enjoying a peaceful summer afternoon when suddenly, the serenity is shattered by the unmistakable sound of a door slamming. It’s a familiar scene in many households, often signaling that something is amiss. But before we rush to scold or reprimand, let’s take a step back and consider the deeper message behind that slammed door. 

Behavior as Communication

In the realm of parenting, one golden rule stands tall: all behavior is communication. Think of it as the Google Translate of emotions. Before words can form, behaviors speak volumes. Whether it’s a slammed door, a pout, or a sudden outburst of tears, these actions are pre-translated emotions waiting to be understood. 

As parents, it’s crucial to tune into these behaviors and decipher the emotions underneath. Regardless of the words we use, behavior often comes first. It's the unspoken emotions bubbling beneath the surface that need our attention before our rational mind can step in and reframe our response. Emotions have a way of bypassing our logical minds and manifesting through actions. This is a natural human response.

child laying on top of dad

Respond vs. React

One of the most valuable lessons we can learn is to respond rather than react. When we react, we’re like thermometers, simply reflecting the heat of the moment. But when we respond, we become thermostats, actively regulating the emotional climate in our homes.

Children are in a constant state of growth, both mentally and physically. Their ability to control their emotions and actions is still developing, and they need to practice a behavior hundreds of times before it becomes automatic. 

Being the Thermostat

With their growing brains and developing bodies, children often struggle to control their impulses. As adults, especially under stress, we often model the very behavior we wish to change in our children. That's why it's crucial to pause and choose our responses mindfully. 

So, how can we, as parents, be the thermostat? It starts with managing our emotions and setting the tone for our interactions. When tensions rise, and everyone is tired and hungry (including you!), choose to manage your emotions consciously. 

Name the stress. Acknowledge that everyone is feeling hot and tired. Suggest a moment to breathe and rest. Stop what you’re doing and encourage everyone to stretch, lay on the ground, or close their eyes to reset. By doing this, you’re calming the situation and teaching your children valuable skills in emotional regulation.

Practice and Apologize

Remember, it’s okay to make mistakes. If you react instead of responding, take the opportunity to apologize and try again. Saying, “I just let myself get frustrated; that’s on me. Let’s try this again a different way,” shows your children that it’s okay to make mistakes and that growth is a continuous process.

mom under a tree with child

Stay in Connection

As we dive into our Summer of Connection program, let’s embrace these opportunities to connect more deeply with our children. By understanding that all behavior is communication, we can respond with empathy and patience, fostering a nurturing environment where everyone feels heard and supported. When a door slams or tempers flare, take a moment to translate the behavior into the emotions behind it. By responding thoughtfully, you’ll foster a deeper connection with your children and create a more harmonious home.

So, the next time you hear that door slam, remember: it’s not just a door; it’s a message. And with a bit of patience and understanding, you can turn that moment into an opportunity for connection and growth. 

Here’s to a summer filled with love, understanding, and many moments where we choose to be the thermostat. Happy parenting!

with gratitude Cary Hamilton

Amy’s Book Recommendations:

The Blessing of a B-

Carrying on from last week’s recommendation, The Blessing of a B- is a second book from Wendy Mogel but written for parents of tweens and teens. Similar to The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, Mogel continues to encourage parents of completely unique and ordinary children who are beginning the transition into adolescence through young adulthood. She normalizes the confusion, pain, frustration, and wonder of parenting children this age and encourages parents to allow children to fail and succeed on more of their own terms. She highlights developmental and relational needs specific to this transitional time and gives permission for parents not always to like their kids as we continue to reach towards them. 

My Lady Jane (13+)

This is a recommendation for the book that inspired the show of the same name on Amazon Prime. (The show is spicy - so the age recommendation listed is specific to the book). This book is a fun reimagining of the story of Lady Jane Grey, the Nine-Day Queen. Full of angst, miscommunication, friendships, magic, and crushes- this book is a fun and irreverent look at history. The narrators are in on the joke and a little cheeky. Genuinely a fun teen book - but parents, please preview the show before rolling a read into a watch. (Content warning: some kissing (WITH TONGUE) and acknowledgment of marital relations. No descriptions).


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