Ever get mad at individuals for the poor choices they make? Get frustrated because they should know better? Just because a person knows what to do does not mean he or she is able to do it in stressful situations. Although at times we all make poor choices, many behaviors are the result of knee-jerk reactions. Reactions are based on feelings, and thus, they are not thought out, nor are they always rational.
When we encounter a person in reaction mode, our first response should be to breathe, stay calm and model appropriate behavior. If we lose control, we only escalate the crisis. Don’t try to reason with the individual. (…no reasoning with crazy…) Our primary job is to de-escalate the situation by using less words, listening and walking away, if needed.
As the individual calms down, he or she will be in a better position to talk. At this point, the individual will be more likely to respond to your feedback and interactions, rather than react. When we are able to rationally discuss a situation, we can all learn from our mistakes and develop better plans for how to handle the problem in the future.
PS – Teens live in reaction mode. It’s normal. Expect it.