Jennifer DuBose, M.S.,
C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private
practice in Batavia and writes a monthly column for Chicago
Letting our kids just
be for a little while
Avoid tantrums before they start
When a child is gay
This strategy works just as well with adolescents as it does
with adults. It is even effective with younger children. In fact,
you're probably already using it.
Remember the last time your child begged to be allowed
impulsively to spend her entire savings on something you thought
she might regret? You suggested postponing the decision for a few
days to see if that "must have" item would remain a "must
Later, once the emotional intensity passed, good choices
were able to be made. Nicely done.
How often do you find yourself stuck in a loop of
unproductive conflict with your spouse, your child, a co-worker or
your ex? Wish you could just stop this 'dance of anger,' which
serves only to create more bitterness between you?
My good friend, Sus Kongsbak Larsen, founder and director
of On Hudson Mediation Center in Glens Falls, N.Y., offers a
suggestion that may help you to break this vicious
A divorce and family mediator and life coach, Kongsbak
Larsen often encourages her clients to come up with timelines for
when to respond when hot issues are raised. She recommends replying
with, "Let me think about that and get back to you," instead of
impulsively reacting with sarcastic or other inflammatory comments
that can make difficult matters even worse.
Kongsbak Larsen illustrates a scenario where co-parenting
exes successfully used this approach. "He accused her of something,
which triggered a reaction, but instead of replying, she said, 'Can
you give me 24 hours to respond to that?' He did, and he eventually
started doing that himself." This cooling-off period allowed time
for negative emotions to subside and created space for
problem-solving to happen.
I love the simplicity of this tool. We often disregard
simple solutions because, I think, we fear they're no match for the
extreme feelings our frustrations inspire. But this is no
lightweight kernel of wisdom. The message you send when you ask for
time to think about another person's perspective- whether it's your
child's or another adult's-is that you're willing to carefully
consider it. Even if you later return to the discussion with no
plan to acquiesce, the fact that you expressed an intention to
consider it at all can result in his feeling heard, coming "down"
from an emotionally amped-up place, and being more receptive to
I suspect that another reason some might ignore this
simple solution is because it can feel quite satisfying-in the
short term-to take the bait and exchange a few barbs. But when we
decide to consciously choose peace instead, we accept the limits of
the relationship and ignore the bait.
"'Later' always works for me," Kongsbak Larsen says. "I am
aware of how much conflict has resolved itself in my life because
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia.
See more of Jennifer's stories here.
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