When Your Poker Face Sucks- Getting Caught off Guard

Recently, there was a question in the Posse about what to do when your child catches you off guard with new and confusing behaviour and you react poorly before you really recognise what’s happening. It’s something we all struggle with- we’re humans, not robots. But how can you recover gracefully and still nip that bad behaviour in the bud?

To a certain extent- this isn’t something we have much control over. When you’re caught off guard, you’re going to alert. As with all things- practice does help, and the more you work on keeping a poker face the better you will get at it- but if things go south and you shout when your normally even-tempered child bites you out of the blue- there is a way to recover and roll into a Logical Consequence Process smooth as silk.

The First Thing To Do When You’re Caught off Guard

When we react negatively to something we realise we shouldn’t have, the first thing to do is acknowledge that you were caught off guard and reacted poorly. I know some people will tell you this undermines you, diminishes your authority, and pulls focus from the misbehaviour- but I don’t agree. It’s important that our children see us acknowledge when we do something less than ideal and do it gracefully. Children express what they’ve been modelled so if we can own up to our shortcomings when it’s their turn they will too.
And it’s as simple as this: we’re going to bust out those good old declarative statements.  Reiterate what happened, and say how it made you feel. “You hit me, and that upset me.” Or  “You screamed, and that shocked me.” Or “You bit me and that hurt.” Label how you reacted. If you feel the need to and the situation calls for it- such as when your child shrieks in delight and you instinctively yell “Be quiet!”- you can apologise. It won’t always be necessary, but if you feel it fits- say sorry.
Then you can roll that right over into a logical consequence process. Smooth, right? So then you’d move into questions and controlled choices and logical consequences.

That’s It!

Crisis averted. You’ve now taken a situation where your glass face threatened to unravel everything and turned the focus back where it should be: teaching your child how you’d like them to behave in the future.

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About Allana

Hi, I’m Allana. I teach parents of toddlers and preschoolers why their children are misbehaving and what to do about it without yelling, shaming, or using time-outs. When not teaching parents about behaviour you can generally find me chasing around my two boys, reading cheesy romance novels, or hanging out with my own parents.

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