WARNING: Thinned bandwidth may cause meltdowns quicker [for you and your child]
We live in the age of internet so the term bandwidth means something to us; I don’t need to explain the metaphor. Right?
Well okay, for all intents and purposes of this story - bandwidth is the capacity at which you can successfully operate. All factors, external and internal, can have a strong affect on your bandwidth, easily tripping you into a tantrum or meltdown quicker than most. This law of life is the same for your children. Knowing what to look for can keep you and your children above the bandwidth threshold and, when crossed, allow for quicker recovery.
Recently, while driving our car to my first Positive Discipline in-person class, I found myself in irregular traffic due to the road being under construction. Our car, I must note, is a stick shift (and you can hear all about THAT story here). On top of that, I had my friend two cars behind me, and I was a bundle of nerves and excitement as I prepared to walk into a room to teach my first ever group class. My bandwidth crept awfully close to its threshold that morning.
Well, I got to a stop light, and when the light turned green, I forgot that the car was in 3rd gear. I attempted to drive, and I stalled out. The car behind me got pissed displayed as a HONK and then I did something unkind. I did something I think I’ve only done about 3 times before in my whole life. I reached my hand up, through my sunroof, and flicked them off.
Yes, the positive discipline facilitator and parent coach flipped the bird to the jerk-face behind me when they honked. I have never been so thankful that the giant bee decal was never ordered and placed on my car’s back windshield. I can just see it now “Be Kind Coaching Positive Discipline Educator and Parent Coach and Middle Finger Thrower.” It brings a whole new light to the saying “the birds and the bees”.
Well, when I finally got the car restarted and on my way, my face turned instantly red. I drove to class, shared with my friend following me what happened and then went inside to set up.
During the first class I opened with -
“Hi friends, so just so everyone knows right off the bat, this class is NOT about perfection It’s about being human.”
I went on to share the story of me: the teacher of positive discipline and owner of Be Kind Coaching flipping the bird to the impatient driver behind me. I went on to share that there are 4 big warning signs that alert all to a possible meltdown. If you can remember H.A.L.T. you’re good to go. I always visualize a policeman holding up a stop sign and about to blow a whistle whenever this event occurs. HALT!! STOP!!! BACK DOWN AND CALM DOWN!!!
Yes, if your energy tank is low then you’re more prone to meltdowns. Whenever I start irrationally crying about something small, my husband now knows to ask “Have you eaten today?” More recently the answer is “no…..” And he follows that with “Come on you, let’s get something to eat and talk about things after.” This allows me the opportunity to fill my tank and logically process through the events.
Oh man, anger is a powerful trigger. Anger has a huge hold over most people. The phrase “seeing red” is very true thing. For you and your children. It is best to see their anger as a sign they need some space or help to calm down before entering into lecture or processing mode.
Lonely is a heartbreaking trigger. We are social beings hardwired for connection. The feeling of isolation and loneliness can easily trip someone into the meltdown zone. Connect as quickly and authentically as you can.
This seems to be the most acceptable trigger into meltdown. You hear it all the time “Oh, you must be tired; let’s go take a nap.” Studies have shown that driving overly tired is on par with driving drunk. Again, your bandwidth is being taxed leaving you more susceptible to meltdowns.
So on that day, I was probably a strong blend of hungry (I’m sure I didn’t eat before, because I was nervous) and tired (from the stress of getting prepared for the class) and slipped into anger pretty quickly when the impatient driver behind me honked their horn.
Big takeaway: be aware of your bandwidth, your spouse’s bandwidth, and most importantly your children’s bandwidth. If H.A.L.T is a trigger, quickly connect and calm before moving forward.
Leave a comment below about a moment your bandwidth was taxed and you did something that rational you would never think to do! Let’s be okay not being perfect!