When did my living room become the changing room? After a particularly busy few days, I looked around the room one evening to find an array of pajamas, swimsuits, socks, t-shirts and shoes. How had all of this stuff accumulated down here? Like a pot of nearly boiling water, bubbles of frustration started to form carrying with them familiar questions as they reached the surface – do I have to do everything? Aren’t they old enough now to pick up after themselves? Don’t they have any respect for these clothes we buy for them? Don’t they realize how lucky they are? And like that pot of water, the more bubbles, the more agitated the water becomes and soon the entire pot is boiling to a point of no return. Can you relate?
A trigger is defined by websters.com as “any event that sets a course of action in motion”. With that definition in mind, what is the trigger in the scenario above? The obvious answer is that the trigger was the kids leaving their clothes all over the living room. If you can relate to this situation, you may speculate additional background facts including the number of times the kids had been told to pick up these clothes, to leave shoes in the laundry room and to change in another room. These assumptions further support the fact that the action (or inaction) of the kids was the trigger, right?
Our automatic reaction is to look for the root cause of our trigger. In this scenario the cause seems pretty obvious, the kids left their clothes all over the living room. Now that the cause is clear, our next action is to try to teach/discipline in order to prevent the situation from happening again. Chances are you may succeed in changing behaviors for a day or even a couple of days, but more than likely it will happen again, sooner than you’d like. So we go back again, teach/discipline the action, see a little improvement and then it happens again. At this point we may ask ourselves, what are we doing wrong as parents? Why isn’t this message sticking? Or maybe we wonder, why is it so hard for our child to remember such an easy task? Is there something wrong with them? As you can see, once you start down this path you can quickly spin a simple situation into a crisis of character.
But what if, the clothes on the floor are not the real trigger? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook and let me know what you think. Part two coming soon……
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.