In previous posts, we explored different perspective questions to help you see your circumstances from other viewpoints. We looked at questions for contemplating parenting tactics, questions to build patience, and a question to help you be present in every moment. These questions were designed to help you think through your options so you can see the best course of action clearly.
But sometimes, in emotionally charged moments, it is not possible to think clearly. If in the heat of the moment you fail to consider the perspective questions, you can still use them in retrospect to assess what you could have done differently. They can help you evaluate the approach you used, and formulate a plan to manage things differently next time. If you still find yourself losing your temper too often during these “hot moments,” it is helpful to track the incidents in a log like the one below.
What you write will be subjective, and the rankings will be on an arbitrary scale, but that doesn’t matter. There are benefits to creating a written record as opposed to confining the events to your memory. You will be able to make sense of events when you force yourself to reduce them to words.
One time I used the log, I was losing my temper with my children a lot. After making a few entries and evaluating what I recorded, I learned that I had been lacking compassion when managing multiple demands. For example, I was answering the third pressing question about how a new toy works while trying to use the bathroom, and doing so in an unnecessarily harsh tone.
My lack of patience in a single moment was introducing an air of tension that escalated throughout the day and affected the whole family. When I focused my efforts on reestablishing compassionate behavior, not to mention realistic expectations for life with small children, my patience returned. I was able to calmly explain from the other side of the bathroom door that I wouldn’t answer questions for a few minutes until I rejoined the rest of the family. With that, the familial friction dissipated.
Sometimes we need to take a step back and evaluate our own behavior. It is not always possible to see the whole picture clearly mentally. A simple log for recording events, thoughts, and interpretations might be all that is needed for you to re-center yourself and behave in alignment with your own standards.
How to Properly Cite this Article: Brian Vondruska, “When You Could Have Done Better”, The Kind of Parent You Are, accessed [date], https://www.thekindofparentyouare.com/articles/better.