Like many parents, you might go to extremes to control situations so they won’t get out of hand. You don’t intend overreacting, but so much frustration has built up that any little irritation sets you off like rocket. You’re battling to make things stop now.
Overreactions are emergency alarms without the emergency.
You can’t see it coming, but then it happens. In an instant you are on an unstoppable mission to fix, contain, punish, or halt anything that upsets your sense of well-being, imagined or not. Overreacting is a sure sign of stress and that you need a break! Overreactions may also come from the anger of losing the day you planned, or the life you planned and came to expect.
If you are overreacting to gain control, you are actually losing control. Your parenting choices need considered, thoughtful decisions instead of an automatic 911 call. When your blood boils, you’re not aware how your behavior creates a toxic environment around you and the rest of your family… nor how it worsens a troubled kid’s behavior.
- Do you worry even when things are fine? Do you find things to worry about that aren’t problems?
- Are you so stressed and traumatized that you just can’t stand it anymore and want the behavior to stop immediately, yesterday?
- Is every little minor thing a reason to pull out the heavy artillery?
- Do you overwhelm difficult situations with your own anxieties or explosions?
It’s common for parents with really difficult kids to get stuck this way, so forgive yourself if you overreact, and stop and look at what this does to your relationships and interactions with your troubled child.
- Do you stop eating, or start drinking, when your stress is just an overreaction to a situation you’ve already handled?
- If you’ll do anything to make your child stop a challenging behavior, might you go too far with little things? Will you call the police because they slammed the door?
- When others hear you constantly complaining, might they consider that the problem is you?
- Do you mirror your child’s bad behavior to show them what it looks like? Are they interpreting this the way you hope, or are you lowering yourself?
Overreactions sabotage opportunities for improvement. They terrify everyone , and your family starts to hide things from you, or downplay things, just so you won’t overreact or worry yourself to death. When family members feel a need to keep secrets, the isolation feeds your worry. Members will smooth over problems or distract you with lightness to counterbalance your fearful or explosive state of mind. Now you are less in control and receive less of the support you need for your own well-being.
If you feel paralyzed by worry or lash out as a way of coping, you are disabling yourself stress and/or depression. Before you completely lose control and your self-respect and parental authority, take care of yourself and get help for both your physical and emotional exhaustion. Check in with others and ask them if you are thinking clearly or realistically.
You must be emotionally centered and healthy or you will never be able to help your child become healthy.
Remember, your child and family need you to be 100% together. Let some things go for the greater peace. Center yourself so you can notice when your child is doing well and offer praise. When centered, you are flexible, patient, compassionate, and forgiving. This draws people towards you, to look after you and care for you. Go ahead, aim for sainthood. Just starting down that path would relieve everyone else’s stress over you.