A few months ago, we were having our dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Our 5.5 years old boy was pretty stable with using the porcelain cup to drink the green tea for a few outings already. All of a sudden, the cup slipped (water stains at the bottom causing it to still move when you placed it on the table surface) and fell onto the floor, breaking in 2 pieces.
In this situation, we can choose to react or respond.
According to this article, there are differences between reacting and responding.
"React in action
When people react, it seems to be defensive. We seem to be at a disadvantage. We are uncomfortable with what is being said or done, and we react. In our reactions, our emotions take a central role. The hair on our neck stands on end. We feel our stomach turn. Our face heats up and our defenses are on red alert.
We know reactions when we see it. In fact, some people on the other side will intentionally stoke the fires, especially when they know we will react. They know if they poke we will coil up and be ready to react in a full way. There is a downside to reacting. We let emotions without reason drive us forward. We lose control. Reacting is sporadic and emotional. The upside may be passion, but our passion needs to be centered on purpose, not an unexpected, unproductive stimulus."
"Respond in action
On the flip side is respond. There is still an external spur to our response. Responding, though, is more thoughtful. Responses contain reasoning. The difference may be this: Responding is guided less by emotion and more by logic. Responding may be passive in nature, as we are going second in a series. However, a response is more active, and it can change the direction of an interaction. The upside of a solid response is an engaging conversation, all positive and all civil. We learn. We grow. We listen. We respond. We act forthrightly and from within."
Being a parent with few small children, our first reactions automatically will be shocked of a cup falling onto the floor, "Is my child hurt?", "Will he be terrified?", "Will there by any tantrums?"
Our boy's reactions was pertty obvious. He was scared, guilty and then he got defensive.
Scared for breaking the cup.
Guilty for breaking the cup.
Defensive as he does not mean to cause that incident and was afraid we are going to blame and scold him.
We then proceeded to calm him down, spoke to him in gentle voice, assuring him it is okay, mummy and daddy are not angry with him, that accidents happen and most important is he is not hurt.
He apologised after he calmed down and tried to pick up the broken pieces and even tried to put the pieces back together again. I had to stop him as I feared he might cut himself. I told him again, it is okay, as long as he knows he did wrong and feel remorseful and promised to be extra careful next time. Happy to say no more accidents since then :)
I think other than a lesson for him to be more careful next time (and that accidents happened though we must admit and take responsibility if it is our mistake), it is also a lesson for us parents as well. How we react and respond to a situation will affect our kiddos and surrounding.
** Read: Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NIV) ~ Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
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