“Nothing works! Nothing works! When my kid is in “red,” nothing works!” This is a constant parental complaint leveled at me in a tone more like a disdainful, incredulous affront when I am teaching parents how to understand what is happening to a child’s brain during a blowout, and what needs to be done (or not done) in the moment of it. And that angry taunt, Nothing works!, is exactly what I am trying to tell parents. When your child is dysregulated into RED survival blowout mode, nothing works. Parents must do a whole bunch of other things to get the needle to move just a little off tilt that will manifest sometime down the road. Delayed gratification is required.
Therapeutic Parenting is the Long Game
Therapeutic Parenting is the long game. The short game is all about the dance and working with “What Is.” If a blowout “Is,” then you go with pure loving safety. There will be blood-curdling screams. Holes find their way into previously pristine walls. Good stuff is smashed. That is a fact of life with children from difficult beginnings.
You Get More of What You Focus On
Nothing works in the short game for stopping a child from being RED*. Stop worrying so much about stopping the red and start working on finding the GREEN, maintaining the GREEN, returning to the GREEN from the YELLOW, getting up to GREEN from BLUE. That is where the learning is. Enough time in “green” over the course of your child’s day will beget fewer and fewer times in “red.” That’s it. Nothing works to stop red in its tracks. Nothing. Red must be waited out, cooled off, calmed down. Instead of focusing on red, start facilitating yellow to green, blue to green, and green to yellow and back again every day, every way that you can. One day, red will be just another color of the rainbow.