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In Case of Emergency


A frantic text came in the other day from our daughter on her 8th grade school trip to the East Coast, “I forgot my dress for Hamilton in the hotel, and we already left.”

You’ve been there before, right? Oh wait a second, maybe your version sounded more like this:

  • Why did you change my screen time?”
  • “I forgot my lunch at home!”
  • “I got invited to a sleepover, and everyone is going—can I go?”

As parents, barely a day goes by without an urgent moment to attend to some version of a crisis for our kids. There’s no escaping it. Our lives are intertwined with theirs, and we get pushed and pulled constantly. 

What do you typically do in these challenging moments? Chances are, if you’re like me, you get immediately caught up in the situation, overreact a little bit, make the situation worse, and then focus your intensity on solving the problem at hand and stop listening to them—which often leads to even bigger feelings and a bigger reaction. In other words, you go into autopilot problem-solving mode, come hell or high water. 

If you find yourself in a crisis situation with your kid, there’s got to be a better way to respond, a more measured process that helps us guide our kids to calmness, clarity, and connection. Here are a few steps for your consideration:


First, Zoom Inward

  • Identify & name your feelings, fears, and your current state:
  • What are you feeling? Physically? Emotionally?
  • What’s feeling threatened? 

Then, Zoom Outward

  • H.A.L.T.: stand for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. It’s an acroynym you might remember when you had toddlers. In other words, if they’re having a difficult moment, then try feeding them, pacifying them, connecting with them, or letting them have some downtime. 
  • Look at the big picture, not just the current situation. Consider:
  • What big life shift is your kid going through? Maybe they’re shifting from childhood to adulthood, or from depending on you to making their own independent decisions. 
  • Reflect on your values: What matters most to you? 
  • How does this particular moment align with how your kid typically responds to a crisis?
  • How connected are you, or have you been recently? 

Next, Clarify the Problem

  •  What's the real problem right now, and what are some options you have to solve it?

Also, Reconsider

  • Is there another way to look at this? 
  • If you were to call a good, wise friend to ask for advice, what would they say?
  • What would you advise someone to do in your situation?

Finally, Act

  • Make your move. 

This will probably take you a few minutes, and you might even need to excuse yourself to the bathroom or a quick walk around the block with the dog. But, I promise that if you try this process instead of your typical one, you’ll feel calmer, see the issue more clearly, and ultimately guide your kid in a wiser path and establish an even stronger connection with them.


P.S. What if there was a way to get the best resources to impact the kids in your life—delivered to you at the right time?
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For years we’ve been studying what a young person needs in order to transition into a healthy, thriving adulthood.  

They're uncommon sense ideas, really.

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