Don’t React

Those words “Don’t react” go through my mind as my son is having a bad moment and saying words he may or may not mean.  The words are triggering for me but I can’t react.  If I react he will just become more upset and then we will spiral out of control together.  “Don’t react”

That is so hard to do.  Probably not just for me but for any parent.  Well maybe more so for me but I really don’t know because I only know what goes on in my head.

Switching from brick and mortar school to online school had some positives and some negatives.  When he attended brick and mortar every day was a fight to get him out of bed.  And then he would have an issue at school.  Another kid, a pep rally, a teacher annoyed him, or maybe he wouldn’t like or understand an assignment.  I would get phone calls.  In middle school they had me pick him up but in high school they gave him a place to chill and kept him there.  And then another day he would do great.  This has been the pattern for years.

The bad days have gotten better for the most part.  But I have noticed since doing online school I take it more personally.  Maybe because I feel I am personally responsible for the education.  When he has the bad day and says “I don’t care”, “I don’t care about school, I’m not doing it anymore.”  “I’m dropping out” It cuts me like a knife.  It always feels like this is it, he is really done.  And I engage in the discussion with him.  I can’t do that because I have to remember he is having bad day or something triggered him.  Another day, maybe even the next day he will be cooperative and do the work.

I need to take deep breaths and not react.  That is so hard as a parent.  The same could be said for anytime that he melts down.  I have to remain calm.  I can’t react, it just makes it worse.

And thinking about it I am working on applying this to all areas of life.  On twitter when someone says something I don’t agree with I don’t always have to react.  Some people have very strong opinions and reacting just causes an argument.  I am not going to change their mind.

Same thing at work.  People will drive me crazy with what they do or don’t do.  I get upset and my boss sees me getting upset more than what they did.  It sucks but it is true.

Don’t react.  Don’t react.  Don’t react.  Don’t react….

I will try to remember that on Monday when I return to work.


  1. Life Skills Teacher says:

    I do okay not reacting when I’m by myself, but I find it hard not to react if a nt coworker reacts. I’ve been so trained that their reactions are right and I should model my behavior on theirs. I really have to watch not picking up reactions that I don’t want from others.

    • That is an excellent point! I hate when I pick up mannerisms that I don’t like or turn out to be wrong. Or I thought the person was good friend & not buy now I have some of their mannerisms. That could be a whole post just on its own!

  2. Wisdom! Oh, geez! I need to soak this in. My new mantra…

    “Don’t react. Don’t react. Don’t react. Don’t react”

    I do need to remember this. There are certain things that Daniel does that are triggers for me. I have to remember not to react because when I do it makes things so much worse. Same goes with other people, if I am highly sensitive for whatever reason I can have multiple triggers go off and send me into a spiral.

    I have been working on that, but some days can be too much. To have a two word phrase like you have shared may actually help me. It is short, simple, direct, and I can remember it. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. i wish i did not react to things but i do and it tends to be the small things in life that irritate me and cant get them out of my head . It is strange but I dont react to an event at first but much later when go over an event . I really try not to react to things but sometimes have to just realise that is me !!

  4. Robin Parker says:

    Thanks I needed that. Maybe a few emails earlier but a lesson learned for next time.
    Great post!!

  5. I’m wrestling with this whole concept right now as I have a son with asperger’s whose behaviour really upsets me. But I think there is a danger that if you make yourself never react you can end up not caring, at least that happened to me in a past relationship when the advice from Al-Anon was to ‘detach’ which is very similar, and I just shut my feelings down, and ended up feeling nothing for this person at all.

    • hmm I am familiar with Al-Anon and why someone must detach. Thank you for pointing that out as I clearly would never want to cross that line (esp with my son!) I view “not reacting” as different. It isn’t that I don’t have an emotional attachment. Although I am struggling with controlling my emotions and not reacting. And this may be different for me because whether I am aspie or just have many autistic traits emotions are an issue for me. (And I should mention it depends on your child- their age, their abilities to control emotion, what they want when they are upset, what behaviors) When my son says the words “I don’t care” he actually means the exact opposite. He is upset at that moment and me getting into a discussion about how he really does care or me getting upset at him for saying that is just counter productive. Now I try to leave the room to give him his space. There are times I couldn’t have done that- when he was younger and/or unable to control his own emotions. When he is so upset he doing physical things I stay for safety reasons and just try really hard to brace myself and take deep breaths. Depending on what he was doing then sometimes yes I had to react for his safety. But even in those situations I have to control my emotions. My son says he doesn’t feel other people’s emotions but I am not sure of it because it was only until recently that I realized I was doing it. With my son I do see that he responds better when I am calm so I do wonder if he does as well. Anyways I try not to react to the words. He wants space so I leave. I feel the negative emotion, I feel my own worry but I need to take deep breaths and not react. Before I would (and fight myself now) go back in and engage in a discussion or go back in and need him to take it back when he wasn’t ready. He needs to work through his own emotions and my reacting just makes it worse. Also walking around all day worrying about it does me no good either. But (if safe) it is better for me to go work through my own emotions elsewhere. Once he works through the emotion or why he is upset he is usually fine.

  6. Good advice my friend although certainly not easy!

  7. I hear you. So true…and soooo much easier said than done…

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