BabyChatter Ezine
Baby Names, Baby Freebies, Coupons & Offers, &
Parenting and Baby Information
December 4, 2001, Issue 54
Teri Hanson, Editor, info@babychatter.com

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=> Welcome
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=> This Week’s Freebies, Deals and Fun
=> Feature Article: Parenting Tips for Children in Crisis Mode
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Know when to Talk and when to Rest. How to talk to children in crisis.
By Jeff Heisler

One of the most common experiences in dealing with troubled children is how to talk to them when they are in crisis. Parents and teachers frequently say “He flew off the handle and he just wouldn’t listen to me.”

You can communicate with children in crisis, and it may be easier than you think. You just need to know when to talk and when to rest.

When to talk
Talk to the child before a crisis if possible. “How the heck do I know when there’s going to be a crisis?” you say. Look for the child’s triggers and “tells.” What situations frequently cause the child to enter a crisis mode? You probably know more about this than you thought.

Anticipate what frustrations the child would have and offer solutions ahead of time. Sometimes role playing with the adult can help. Say something like, “Now Sam, if John pushes you when you go to the playground what would you say? What would you do?” Rehearse the appropriate response until the child shows he can display the proper method for dealing with the crisis.

Does the child always use this tool? No, but it works when the adult is in the child’s presence at the time. Repeated role playing about stressful situations will help the child feel more confident with the behavior and helps the behavior to become more natural. Over time the new behavior is more likely to be the child’s first response.

When to Rest
What if the child is already in crisis? This is when you should rest. Let the child collect his or her cool. This is important because anyone in crisis can’t think clearly. There’s a good reason for this. Our brains are still protecting us from a dangerous outdoor environment we no longer live in.

The archipallium, the primitive part of the brain that controls vital behaviors and reflexes, can’t tell the difference between a hungry lion and a scolding parent. The result is predictable. In crisis the body prepares to defend itself and enters fight-or-flight mode. In this mode blood pressure rises, the heart beats faster, respiration
increases, adrenaline is produced, and muscles tighten.

As if that isn’t bad enough, in crisis the brain channels all energy to the archipallium, which is about the size of a golf ball. The neopallium, which gives you your ability to think rationally, shuts off. If you’ve ever said, “He just won’t listen,” now you know why.

Wrapping up
Talk to your child when they are calm and clear minded. If they’re in crisis, wait it out until the fight-or-flight mode shuts off. Now you’re ready to talk.

Help the child understand why they’re so upset, and help them find other ways to deal with it through discussion and role play. You’ll be surprised what a difference it can make when you know when to talk and when to rest.

Jeff Heisler is a freelance writer who spent several years as a teacher and counselor for troubled youth.

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