I live in an earthquake zone. Around here, it’s recommended by The Government to be prepared. Pamphlets are produced to tell us how to prepare for an earthquake. What we should have on hand. Household notes, where to gather. And, of utmost importance, what to do when the tremors start. Regardless of the size of the earthquake (because of course we never know when the Big One will hit)…we are to drop to the ground on the spot, take cover as best as we can with what is nearest, hold on and count to sixty.
The time to teach my children what to do when an earthquake strikes is NOT when a earthquake strikes.
It would be fruitless.
After the crisis is over, we can assess the damage and establish our plan of action. If it wasn’t The Big One, we can evaluate what our shortfalls are and prepare ourselves for the next crisis a little more effectively.
And so it is with dealing with crises with humans. Meaning our kids. We cannot teach effectively in the middle of crises. When children are in a meltdown, emotional crisis or moments where all reasonable behaviour is off limits – they aren’t accessible. It isn’t a teaching moment. No matter how loud we get, or how hard we cajole, or the size of our threats, the child in crisis isn’t available. Their brains have fallen out.
It’s temporary. Praise God.
In the calm after the emotional storm is when we can effectively deal with strong emotions or misbehaviour. Trying to impart acceptable behaviour in the middle of their emotional earthquakes is not a teachable moment.
It is fruitless. It is ineffective.
Fruit in discipline comes when children are calm. Accessible. Teachable. Brains installed. Collected.
And the reality is, we are more collected, too. If we can hang on, take emotional cover, and count to sixty (or 600), we’ll be more reasonable in our dealings with the child. Hang on. Wait it out. Let the storm pass. THEN make the most of the teachable moment.