Therapeutic tool – engagement

Therapeutic tool…Not engaging in the trauma drama.

One thing we can do to help a situation is to sometimes simply to not engage. We don’t need to add another word or another action to every situation. Sometimes the best thing to do is either walk away, or simply say “uh huh” or “that’s interesting”.

I know there are times you want to argue or to fix the situation, but sometimes this may lead to escalations, into making it worse. I have a child that must always be “right”. Does it help to argue that they are not? No, it may just escalate the situation. Are there times you need to say something? Say if they are going to do something dangerous? Yes, but if they are simply saying the sky is red when it is blue, you do not need to engage and argue the fact.

If things are escalating to violence then one of your key tools may simply be to walk into the next room and not engage. It is very difficult to hit someone if that someone is not close enough to hit. I am not talking about running away in fear, I am talking about a controlled exit from the situation, such as a toilet break. Example: child is in living room and you can see they are starting to escalate, you think it may go into violence as all of their key signs are there. You voice “I have to go to the toilet” you then go to the bathroom and remove yourself from the situation for 5 minutes. Then you return downstairs but to another room, controlling the re-engagement with some nurturing or fun activity. Will there be some children that chase you? There may be those that will not allow you out of the room, the key is to leave early…before there is a build up and explosion.

Look for the signs, use the tool of disengagement before things escalate. If your staying will make the situation bigger, and you can safely walk away from it, then walk away to give less fuel to your child’s fire. Verbal disengagement can also be helpful. There may be times your child is simply trying to recreate trauma drama, they may see negative engagement as the one they are most used to. If you find yourself going into just anther fight, one that is simply for negative input, then practice your nonsense answers such as “uh huh”, “isn’t that interesting”, and “oh my”. Simply put, if your child says there is a dragon in the sky, you do not need to argue that flying dragons are not real, it is OK to say “oh isn’t that interesting”.

Consider engagements today, if physical and verbal engagements lead to an escalation, into more drama, then consider whether or not stepping away or not engaging in the matter may be your answer to keeping things calmer in your home. Please note that this is not the answer for every occasion, but just another tool in your Therapeutic Parenting toolbox to enable you to stop an escalation. You will not want to use disengagement every time, use is sparingly, but do use it when needed. The key is to use it if it stops escalation of emotions and then you get in when they are calmer to re-engage in a positive way.

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