Chapter 28 – What to do now?

What to do now?

Imagine a parent’s worse nightmare… they realize their child is missing as they were distracted for one minute.

The parent start looking around, and then see their child up on a tree in the park. The limb the child is on is too high for the parent to reach, and if the child falls from there – it could be fatal.

What to do now?

If you have never been a parent, you may try to rationalize this situation. Say things you think this parent should do and so on. However, if you ARE this parent, and this is happening to you NOW – you are reacting to it differently. You are reacting to this in real-time, and as if your life is dependent on it, which it kinda does.

Also, if you are this parent, you are probably imagining the worse-case scenario. You are emotional, you are stressed, you think that you are a bad parent for letting this happen (and a million other thoughts you can’t really sort through).

As the parent, whom their child is at imminent danger and risk, it is especially important to act with the best intentions and focus. It is why this chapter is here, and why we spend time on training for such occasions.

What to do now?

There are two main paths to take:
1) Just get into crisis mode, let the storm of emotions and thoughts dictate the next move, and hope for the best. This is what most parents end up doing, as they do not stop the fight/flight instincts and adrenaline that is trying to take over the situation.

or

2) Acknowledge that you are now reacting as if your OWN life is in danger, and that your brain just wants this horrible thing to be over… and trust that what you are about to do NOW is BETTER than the default behavior (see #1).

Let’s now pretend that this is just an imaginary situation, and that you are not this parent. This is totally logical and happening to someone else, whom you do not know.

Which dialog sequence you think will yield a “BETTER” outcome?
Dialog 1
Parent (frantic): “Johnny, get down from there, NOW! You will get hurt…”
Johnny (realizing the parent is upset, worried, may punish me afterwards): “But, but… I did not mean to climb so high…”
Parent (on the verge of crying and hysteria): “I told you not to leave my sight, and not to climb on trees… you can fall and hurt yourself!”
Johnny (now nervous and thinking about their future punishment which clouds their ability to calm down, and climb down safely): “I am sorry, I did not mean to…please don’t be mad…”

or

Dialog 2
Parent (composed): “Johnny, how is the weather like up there?”
Johnny (realizing the parent found them): “Hi, it is awesome… look how high I am…”
Parent (with soft and pleasing voice): “Do you need help climbing down?”
Johnny (realizing the height is a bit too much): “I think I can do it…”
Parent (with inviting voice): “How about climb safely down, I will help you and we go get ice cream after?”
Johnny (realizing there is help offered): “Ok, let me do it slow so I don’t fall down…”

 

It seems that the parent’s THOUGHTS, and reactions directly impact the OUTCOME of the situation. It is hard to do this experiment in a lab, yet, there is an experiment that can show how the parent’s thoughts and reactions can change the outcome.

This experiment should only be conducted by parents (not babysitters or guardians). This experiment should only by conducted when the toddler is not in real danger. Some people may never try it, and some will not think this is possible.

In a toddler’s life, until they are fully coordinated – there will be many accidents, falls, bumps to the head. The next time an “ouchie” comes about, you can try this.

This is the usual sequence of events:
1) Toddler bumps head on something (say a door)
2) Short pause where Toddler analyses what just happened, and also inspects the parent’s reactions
3) Toddler has a combination of thoughts (surprise, pain, anger, startle and so on)
4) Toddler looks and hears the parent’s reaction to the situation (most likely the parent is also startled, worry, upset etc.)
5) Parent: “Oh my god, are you ok?”
6) Toddler reacts with cries and tears as the overwhelming conclusion is “I am hurt, I am in pain, even my parent is worried, ouch!”

The experiment calls for this sequence of events:
1) Toddler bumps head on something (say a door)
2) Short pause where Toddler analyses what just happened, and also inspects the parent’s reactions
3) Toddler has a combination of thoughts (surprise, pain, anger, startle and so on)
4) Toddler looks and hears the parent’s reaction to the situation
5) Parent: (with inviting smile and joyful laughter): “Johnny, we knock on the door with our hands, not our heads, silly goose… that was funny…”
6) Toddler reacts with?

You would be amazed, most times, the toddler will laugh with you, ignoring for the most part any pain or feeling frazzled. They are taking into account the parent’s reaction, and if they are laughing, then it can’t be that bad.

This example shows that many times in our lives, we simply REACT to the situation. Thus, we see the same outcome again and again. Many people would never conduct this experiment, or know there is a different outcome possible. They are thinking that by laughing after the kid bumps their head, they are not reacting properly. Only after you try it, and you experience it, you can think about the merit of reacting a certain way to a situation – and not just let your instincts take over.

Only then you can extrapolate this to thinking “In how many other situations in my life I have simply reacted, in the spur of the moment, and I did not get to experience the other outcome?”

Examine your life and see that there is a whole other life you can live, if you do not simply react.

Click here for Chapter 29

References and Quotes:
Toddler sniper (listen to the last few seconds) – Toddler Sniper

Handling head bumps – Head bumps