Mute, Pause, and Play
By Barbara McRae, MCC
Do your teenagers disappoint you? Do you wonder, “How many times do we have to have this conversation?” If this describes you, it’s time for a change.
Rather than fall into your old pattern of speaking, hit the mute button to keep silent. Give yourself some space to think things through and use a new approach.
Muting yourself gives you all sorts of advantages; here are some of them:
1. You’ll keep yourself from using words that trigger more negative feelings.
2. You’ll become more aware of what’s going on for you, internally, and what you need to do for yourself. (How has your breathing or heartbeat changed?)
3. You’ll calm down to be fully present in order to think more rationally.
4. You’ll remember to turn this situation into a learning opportunity in order to facilitate growth.
5. You’ll enhance your ability to listen to what others are saying before you formulate your reply. Stay focused on your teen’s perspective.
6. You’ll practice acquiring patience to identify your options, not acting on impulse.
7. You’ll encourage others to use silence for their own self-awareness.
Getting comfortable with silence is not the same as giving someone the “silent treatment.” Rather, you’ll exhibit a deep caring for yourself and the other person.
Select “pause” for yourself when “counting to ten” isn’t long enough for you to feel in command of yourself. It’s much better to say, “Look, I really want to talk this through with you, and I’ll need more time. Let’s talk about it again at (pick a time and place).
In the meantime, use your pause to ask yourself:
• What is my preferred outcome?
• How might this situation impact my teen in ten years?
• How does what I want fit with what my teen needs/wants?
• What have I done in the past? What worked and what didn’t?
• What will I do differently this time?
Instead of experiencing situations that cause you to feel powerless, you can adopt new perspectives, expand your options, and discover that you are in command of yourself. Sure, letting go of the old unproductive ways can be challenging at first, but also highly invigorating.
After you’ve paused to regroup and rehearse your new approach, resume your conversation. You’re ready to hit “play!”
Barbara McRae, MCC
Teen Parenting Expert, Campus Calm
© Barbara McRae