Kids make mistakes and do stupid things. That’s what kids do. As young children their brains aren’t developed enough to be able to think abstractly and clearly about complicated or long range consequences. Even as pre-teens and teens, they just haven’t had enough life experiences to think things through fully before jumping to a quick verbal response or a rash behavior which could get them into trouble.
This is the time to remember that you were young once too. Resurrect some of your youthful screw-ups to remind yourself of foolish decisions you’ve made. In fact, we often don’t have to scroll back very far in time to recall a dumb choice in our recent past. We’re not perfect—and our kids aren’t perfect either.
So when your kids make poor choices and take impulsive risks, be sensitive. Don’t fly to criticism, conclusions or harsh punishment. Instead, take your time to learn about the situation as completely as you can. Only then are you ready to respond.
You see, when your kids make a mistake is when they need you most. That’s when you’re really glad you’ve developed and maintained a close, positive and trusting relationship with them—so you can talk with them, influence them and guide them.
I adopted a slogan that helped me through the crazy times of raising my two daughters: “When a crisis arises, don’t panic. Don’t react. First, secure the relationship.” Make sure you don’t damage your connection with your kids. Maintain and even increase your contact. There’s plenty of time to solve the problem after your child knows you understand, you care and you’re on his side.
A mom told me that a couple of years ago that her teenage son called in a bomb threat to the school. Now that’s serious! In fact, it’s a potential felony charge. He did it, not because he was a bad kid but because he had ADD and was very impulsive. Also because he felt like a nobody and he yearned to feel like a somebody. The school and the legal system were right there to impose significant consequences. So Mom wisely decided to stay calm and stay connected because she knew he would need her to help him learn to make better decisions in the future and to feel like a somebody without engaging in behaviors that evacuated the school and threatened to land him in juvie.
Here’s a chiller! You get a call from the principal who says your fifteen-year-old daughter just flunked math and was busted for smoking dope in the school parking lot with a twenty three-year old on a Harley with fifty tattoos. How do you stay calm in the face of that one? Here are some simple tips for keeping your cool.
Next: 5 Tips for Staying Calm