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The power of the pause…

From the time we are born, we communicate through actions. When we are young children, and our emotional regulation is developing, we act out how we feel without a filter. As we grow and we take on the expectations of society and develop that regulation, we temper our actions to fit in or we manage to regulate ourselves in a way that hides our true feelings.


Neurodivergent brains develop emotional regulation more slowly and sometimes less fully and so our ND young people are more inclined to feeling big emotions and be overwhelmed by these far more and perhaps for far longer than their neurotypical peers.


Their behaviour in these moments can be challenging for those around them to understand and deal with. Their actions may well trigger something in us that makes it difficult to respond calmly and with a clear head. As the parents of these young people it may feel that we are constantly waiting for the next thing that will cause these big emotions and second guessing ourselves when we seem unable to support them appropriately in the moment.


We may also be dogged by expectations of those around us and judgements about how our child is behaving. It can be very difficult to see past these and just focus on how our child may be feeling rather than just see how they are acting.


Our young person may lash out uncontrollably due to feeling overwhelmed by the sensory stimuli in a particular environment, they may become aggressive with a sibling after feeling unheard by their teacher, they may resort to lying to their parents in order to gain some control after being bullied by peers.


Experts talk about the power of the pause…. a short pause when we feel ourselves beginning to be challenged by our young person’s behaviour. A brief moment when we can just think about why they may be acting in this way, what the feeling behind the action may be, what they are communicating through their actions….


The power of this is that we have that time to change how we respond, we don’t act impulsively and allow our first reaction to be the one they see, we can consider asking questions, getting curious, really allowing them space to let us know how they feel.


If we can then address the need behind the behaviour rather than focusing on the behaviour alone, the likelihood is that the challenging actions will begin to fade. The more challenging the behaviour, the more the need for that pause and connection.



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