The tendency to react, instead of respond, to emotionally charged situations, is not just a parenting challenge, it is a human challenge. We were made to react to certain situations. We perceive these situations through our senses. Therefore, if we sense any emotion that we perceive as threatening or damaging, we tend to react, instead of respond. Once we understand what is going on in our brains and bodies, we can develop a plan to respond, instead of react, in these moments. As parents. As humans.

While, as a parent, you aspire to respond to your child’s activities, it is easier said than done. For instance, if your child accidentally spills milk, or breaks a valuable showpiece of glass, or is too clingy, the way you behave, will determine the results. There are two scenarios here.

You react – You yell and reprimand the child and blame him for spilling milk. Or punish him by giving him a time out, the child is going to feel an accident or error is mostly and often his fault! And that mistakes are bad.

You respond – You involve him in cleaning the mess he made, (not in case of glass) and explain to him the correct way of holding the glass or placing the tissue under the glass so that it doesn’t fall, or being cautious around delicate items. The child will grow a sense of understanding towards the incident and you will see lesser mistakes.

How does responding affect your child?

1.  When you respond, you give the child a free sense of expression, where he doesn’t fear your reaction, and hence doesn’t curb, bottle or hide his feelings, that would in turn be very detrimental to his growth.

2.  Responding to your child, by explaining their actions to them, gives them a sense of ownership and belonging. The next time, you will see that your child, is careful around the curios at home, and you shouldn’t be surprised if you see him cleaning the glassware with utmost care!

3.  Unlike a reaction, when you respond, to bad behavior, you let your child express their real emotions. If the emotion is met with irk or anger, they will fear to express frustrations or to make mistakes in future. By understanding their feelings and thoughts your children will look at you for guidance and they will not look away from you to mentor them.

4.  Another aspect responding can ensure, is providing your child with a sense of security. When he knows that mamma or papa, won’t impulsively react to a mistake or setback, he will automatically gain the confidence, to avoid making those mistakes.

5.  Moreover, responsiveness over reactiveness helps your child develop his social skills and become more emotionally strong, as compared to, those who are the receiving end of a reaction.

6.  And the most important affect responding has on your child, is it builds their self-esteem and self-belief. They start accepting themselves and loving themselves for who they are.

How to make a change?

Reacting means that you meet your child’s emotionally-charged behavior with your own emotionally-charged reply. If something causes you to emotionally react, you need to recognize that emotion, pause, take a deep breath and then analyze. Easier said than done, I know it. But once you consciously become aware, things will change. It ought to change!

Remember, if your child is yelling or having a tough time, yelling back will only make things worse. And the message you pass is that ‘yelling is acceptable’. But, if you keep a calm tone and respond to the yelling by reasoning and calming the child down, you will realize that the next time he yells, he will calm down almost instantly, because you hadn’t reacted, but responded!

If you find it difficult, take yourself away from the situation and calm yourself down. Breaking the cycle by withdrawing yourself from the situation first helps you gain perspective.

If you are able to take time and sort through your emotions and respond to your child’s actions, you will be able to create a positive environment at home, to raise your child in.


Thank you Veera for choosing me as your Mumma <3