As a parent, it is easy to get triggered by several things your child does. What may follow in trying to manage your child might include raising your voice at your child, withholding affection from your child, or even disciplining them as a knee-jerk reaction. There are different types of triggers, and for most individuals, triggers are often related to past traumas. In this case, the word “trigger” is synonymous with reactions.
Often times, it feels very difficult to parent consciously when you are triggered as you are in an aroused emotional state. You may have grown up in a household where your parents often yelled at you, hit you, or withheld affection from you as a way to obtain compliance or obedience from you. Although they were most likely well-meaning in their intentions, their execution may not have been the most helpful for you. Hence, as a parent, you may now have a difficult time learning not to react to your child when you get triggered yourself. If you want to change your responses to your child when you are triggered, keep on reading!

Trading Guilt and Remorse for Grace and Compassion
Remember that parenting in itself is a process for reflection. There is no such thing as a perfect parent or child. Focus on nurturing your inner child and showing yourself grace and compassion. Parenting is very challenging as you have tremendous influence over a child’s life. Furthermore, you are responsible for their wellbeing and providing them with a safe, structured, supportive, and loving environment. When you find yourself struggling with your reactions to your child, take a second to pause and ground yourself.
When you are triggered, I recommend journaling in response to these 3 prompts: How am I feeling? Why am I feeling this way? What can I do about it? It could look like this: “I am frustrated. I’m feeling frustrated because my son is throwing his food and it’s creating a mess. I feel like a failure because he’s out of control and I’ve so much to clean up after. However, instead of focusing on his mess, I can choose to focus on how he’s learning to develop his motor skills and this is important for his sensory experience. I can always clean up after he’s done eating – cleaning up after his mess doesn’t mean that I’m failing as a parent.”
Being triggered is a tough moment for you and your child. If you catch yourself reacting quickly to your child’s behavior, communicate this to him/her: “This is a really tough moment for the both of us. I need to take a minute to calm my body before helping you.” Doing this will show your child that you, too, experiences big feelings and that you are learning how to regulate yourself. This in turns models self-regulation and good communication skills. Avoid projecting your triggers on your child or shaming your child for their behavior. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for you and your child is to pause and come back to the matter at hand when you are calm and collected.

Believing in Yourself
All in all, remember that you are an amazing parent! You are called to be a parent to this specific child, and you are blessed with the opportunity to teach and guide someone to be an amazing and giving person in this world. Do not let your mom or dad guilt weigh you down. Instead, allow these challenging experiences to teach and transform you as you work on healing your inner child so that you can be the “better” parent to your child. You are the best person to parent your child. Embrace that and enjoy the ride!
If you would like parenting strategies or help in healing your inner child, reach out to me and schedule a session with me! I would be more than happy to support you in this journey of healing and growth.

-Amanda Lai Wai Kuen, LPC, ICDVP