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I'm Avital.

You want a present, peaceful and playful family life? I'm here to help you make that a reality.

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My worst parenting moment ever.

Y’all know I’m an advocate for treating children with respect and peace, and regulating ourselves.

But I do not always manage to do that, myself.

About a year ago I had a particularly shameful response to a completely normal – if a little irritating – comment my son made. (Watch the video above for the full story – it’s hard for me to share, but I think it’s important.)

I don’t even remember what the comment was (hangs head in shame).

But I remember my automatic, animalistic, furious reaction – vividly.

And as is apparent from him recently bringing it up again – so does he. He’ll probably never forget it, and I wouldn’t want him to.

You see, when we clench our teeth and hiss wildly at our children, when we grab them (too tight) and PULL them across the room. When we make a face at them that communicates “Don’t. You. DARE. Or. ELSE.” – we are sometimes struck by the urge to “cover our tracks”.

“Oh, mommy was just whispering because the baby’s asleep.”

“Oops, I didn’t THROW the dish, it just slipped out of my hand.”

“I wasn’t so mad, you’re overreacting, I just didn’t like what you said.”

Us adults are masters of illusion: throw some confetti in the air – *razzle dazzle* them – confuse them out of what they know to be true.

Own Our Mistakes

Today, I want to challenge us all to take the opposite track. It’s far more vulnerable, yes. It’s much harder. And, I believe, much braver.

Today, I want to challenge us to OWN OUR MISTAKES. To face our children, look them straight in the eye, and authentically, honestly, painfully and brutally share the truth - which is what they felt anyway.via @ParentingJunkieTweet This

Rather than tricking them out of their feelings, and convincing them that the sense they had – that we were totally out of control and had mightily overstepped – is a silly misunderstanding, due to their immature brains…

Confirm for them, that their intuition is in fact spot on. 

“Yes, I was completely out of line. I was out of control and I overreacted.”

“You’re right, I should never have done that. I’m ashamed of how I treated you.”

“What I said is inexcusable and I’m going to make every effort to never treat you that way again. I need to be in charge of staying calm, no matter what you do.”

And thanking them. 

“Thank you for helping me grow. Thank you for your feedback, it’s helpful. Thank you for being honest with me, you can always tell me how you feel about me – even when it’s painful.”

I know my son feels safe with me, despite my violent outburst. How do I know? because I’ve asked him. He’s said clearly: “It’s ok. We all get mad sometimes. I understand… I forgive you mum.”

Whilst I’m embarrassed that I did this, I see it as a blessing and a lesson we’ve all learned from… and the closeness, humanity and authenticity of the interactions with my son that followed mean that I wouldn’t take it back, even if I could.


LEAVE A COMMENT!

If you, like me, have had reactions you’re ashamed of – with your kids, your spouse or someone else… help me normalize this for other parents too – by sharing your comment below. Or just give me a “LOVE” in the comments, to show others we can all be accepted and loved, warts and all.  

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16 comments

16 Replies to “Master your triggers, once and for all?”

  1. Avital, thanks for sharing your story. Would you believe it if I told you I had an almost identical experience?! Just sub in model UN instead of spaceship and – boom! That was us last year. I can’t remember the trigger or what he said but like your’s, my son won’t ever forget and neither will I. This post could not have come at a better time. I had a rough weekend and several shameful parenting moments. It makes me feel like such a fraud but I try to remember that the desire and effort to be a peaceful parent counts for something…right?! I tried to repair best I could but I have a lot of work to do in identifying and managing my triggers. It’s awful, it feels like I am a different person with a different brain when I react in those ways. Again thanks for sharing

  2. Wow. I think you must have heard me the other day… “Oops! I dropped a dish!” after I threw it in the sink, extra triggered, annoyed (and sleep deprived). I know when we hide our mistakes, refuse to ask for forgiveness, or avoid bringing it up again (hoping it will just be forgotten) in any relationship is from FEAR. Fear it will make it worse, fear it will make us appear weak, or fear that we are actually a scary person. But I know you are right – REPAIR is what heals these wounds. Oh to have examples… yet, you’ve just given yours.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have had many reactive/animalistic moments mine always seem to center around the sibling relationship. Before anything terrible (read true emergency) has even happened I get to the point of yelling much quicker than I would like (or intervening in probably not the most helpful/peaceful way) – I yell the “right” words – ie brothers are not for kicking, but screaming it at the top of my lungs probably is not the best way to get my point across. I cannot for the life of me figure out what is so triggering about this and thus far no amount of reframing is getting me closer to working through it. I do apologize and repair after (immediately after and then again a few days later I’ll bring it up again) but at some point if I’m not making true changes here I believe my apologies will no longer be enough. Kids are forgiving I agree, I also think that comes from them trusting that we do want to be better and do better and will.

  4. Thank you, thank you for this beautiful post. I have re-read the pages in the book No Drama Discipline where the authors recount bad parenting moments they had again and again because it really really helps to know that parenting experts have these moments too. I am so glad I’m not alone. It gives me the strength to remember to use it as a learning experience when these times happen to me! I had a really hard summer 2 years ago where I was so impatient and just awful with my older son while we were under a lot of stress, moving home etc. Sometimes I think back to that time, specific things I said and did, and feel what an awful parent I must be. It helps to remember we all have those times and it’s just how we respond that matters. Thank you for your vulnerability, what a great post.

  5. Amen! And thank you for being so vulnerable and real. Parenting in hard, complicated, wonderful, frustrating, transformative, and inspiring all in one. I love how you talked about your come back rate. That’s really where it’s at, can we be self aware of what we are doing right after we do it? That’s where the magic happens. I have had similar experiences and it has only made me better and more aware. The universe will keep giving us these scenarios until we can get it “right” (whatever that may be). Our children can be our greatest teachers. You are such an inspiration and your honesty is refreshing and so needed right now. This is not about perfection or a one size fits all mentality. This is growth and love and real life. Love you Avital!

  6. Thank you so much Avital for your honesty and authenticity! I know I have never met or spoken with you but watching your videos is like having a close friend in the room with me. I can’t wait to join present play!

  7. From Neta –

    “Thank you for making yourself so vulnerable, thinking hard about how to help myself implement similar responses to what you describe. When I have a moment I do apologize immediately, but I feel so bad that I must be damaging secure attachment or something like that. I like the idea of bringing it up again later.

    “One issue that is bothering me that I would love some insight on, is that I’ve noticed I’m more easily triggered by my eldest. I believe there are two reasons – he’s my first and I think of him as big and have high expectations (working on this by pretending to myself in my mind that he’s the youngest every so often when we have quite time together and this really helps), and I identify more with him than the younger two – He can be shy like myself, he’s really aware of his surroundings/people’s emotions, and he’s quite a pleaser (a part of myself that often bothers me). I’ve taught myself to respond the same to them but I still know that I feel more triggered by him (for example if they refuse to put shoes on and I’m rushing I will say “time to put shoes on now” and help them put the shoes on, but I would probably have no emotional response with the younger one and would probably feel some annoyance at the older one. Maybe he’d notice that I’m putting his shoes on more roughly or something like that I don’t know, but I want to overcome this!”

  8. Thank you for your honesty, vulnerability and creating honest space for all of us parents who have our “omg-I-can’t-believe-I-just-did-that!” moments. How wonderful that you were able to recover, model apology, recovery of self, and coming back, owning what you did (!) and talking about it, claiming it…and making it right. Really, this is so important, beautiful, humbling. And that opportunity for looking at our behavior expectations within a compassionate framework.

  9. Avital, I needed to hear this so so much today. After a rushed and stressed morning, with screaming and holding down to put on clothes that had yet again been taken off, I needed to know that I am not alone. Anger is something I didn’t even know I had much of until becoming a mother and it is terrifying to see how quickly, and frightening I can become. Thank you so much for sharing. Xx

  10. Thank you. I just cried. I cried for all us parents who lose control and then can’t get over the guilt and fear that we damaged and traumatized our kids. We do all that we can to repair and make sure it doesn’t happen again, but eventually it does. Thanks for putting it into perspective, that was a learning experience for both the parent and the child. I make sure to thank my kids for every opportunity to learn from them and with them in this wonderful parent-child relationship, and I think that helps them realize their immense value in our lives and helps build a solid sense of self-worth. Being authentic and being who we are with all our shadows gives them licence to be who they are, and not feel bad, undeserving of love or wrong for having bad feelings and bad behaviours sometimes. That is the crucial part of peaceful parenting, right? Took me some time, a million books and our Present Play program to finally get it. Thank you, Avital, for supporting us on this journey. Love you!

  11. Thank you so much for sharing. Be willing to share your imperfections, make’s you feel like a real person. I think my worst mommy moment was about a year ago. Our dog was ill and needed to be on medicine which made her ravenous. Because she was hungry all the time she would wander off looking for food. I had taken her out back to briefly go to the bathroom before my daughter and I walked down to the park, and a neighbor came over and was talking to me. I saw my dog start to wander. I asked my daughter then 4, to go and get her. She ignored me. The dog wandered further and I asked her again and she refused. Finally, the dog wandered out of sight. I excused myself from the conversation and went off to find the dog. She was gone. I did a quick lap around and couldn’t find her anywhere. I told my daughter we had to get in the car and find the dog. My daughter began to whine and complain about needing to go find the dog. She was mad, that we might miss her friend, who weren’t even sure would be there. I tired empathizing, and explaining that the dog was part of our family and I was worried that she was hurt. The back of our house is a huge residential neighborhood, but the front is a busy road. We drove around and around, and finally, I saw the dog near the busy road, but I was on the other side of the median. She complained more and I finally snapped and shouted, “If you had just gotten the dog when I asked we wouldn’t be doing this!” We finally, got the dog, but it turned out that her condition had worsened, we had to take her straight to the vet and a few hours later made the decision to put her down. I talked it over with her several times, but I’m so worried she internalized that it was her fault and it wasn’t. I should have asked the neighbor to hold in and gotten the dog myself and put her on the lead.
    It’s hard for me when I see my daughter acting in a way that seems inconsiderate and uncaring. The silver lining in this story, is I’ve learned that my daughter does not react well when she senses I am upset, or worried. I know now that she needs help processing her emotions during this time. It’s not that she is uncaring or inconsiderate. She is actually a very loving and thoughtful child, but in these moments she’s still learning to process her BIG feelings. However, it’s hard to let go of the guilt of what I said to her that day.

  12. Thank you all. Just glad to hear I am not the only one who regrets those types of moments! I think our biggest win is acknowledging our mistake and to strive to do it differently.

  13. Thanks for sharing Avital. You bring an interesting point about triggers and our own issues. My not so proud moment was when my son failed swimming class because he wouldn’t put his head underwater. We practiced in the bath a few time and I was sure I prepared him well. Normally we would go out for lunch after swimming lessons as our treat but because he failed I felt like I failed at preparing him so I said we will go straight home because I’m not so happy because he didn’t pass. After hearing myself say this I felt horrible that I may be setting him for fear of failure in the future which is what I dread. I’m a firm believer in hard work and that failing is never an option. I had to change my message shortly after with ‘we can try again’.

  14. Thank you for this! I needed to hear this tonight. You are wonderful and this site is such a gift. Miss you and neshikot.

  15. Thank you for your sharing Avital. I Appreciate your honesty and confidence to go out and share your story. Pretending that we never loose it, would not be real, so you have shown more real to me after this story.
    I can share lots of stories when I had loose it, because I have lots.. like when my son didnt want to stop watching the ipad, I spank him… But I prefer just to highlight my favorite part of your sharing, and is about our growing and the effect of becoming more conscious, when this happen we are able to go out of this episodes quicker and also reduce them a lot more. I tell to my friends that now i had been reducing my yelling to more than have percent.. or that i have been a whole week without screaming, like a week sober! haha Thank you for all your teachings, they are great tools to my present conscious parenting! Lots of love!

  16. Thank you so much for this video. Having children has brought to light triggers I didn’t even know I had. I far too often screams and loose my cool and shamefully have resorted to spanking. I have snatched things , spoken rudely and one time in a moment of being overwhelmed just fell to the floor and broke down into tears in front of my little ones. Parenting is not easy. But I’m so happy to be on this journey of conscious parenting and really taking step back to see triggers and work through them and most importantly talking everything out with my children so that I can exemplify healthy behavior and teach them through authenticity.

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