Welcome to February. With the novelty of 2021 having already worn off and still over a month to go before Spring Break, homes and schools can feel like emotional pressure cookers. Unfortunately, the combination of high stress and low tolerance levels becomes a breeding ground for conflict.

Keep in mind that when overly stressed we shift into survival mode and react to situations more than respond to them. The thinking part of our brains shuts down, emotions take over, and frustrations come out through observable behaviors.

“I don’t care!” “I’m going to run away!” “I hate it here!” If you are a parent or teacher, you’ve heard some variation of these phrases. People say things they don’t mean when emotions boil over. When this happens, ignore the words, acknowledge the feelings, and table discussions. “You’re upset. Let’s talk later.”

Problems don’t magically disappear when we hold off on working through them, but by stepping away we avoid the potential power struggles which would only makes things worse. Time apart also gives us a chance to calm down and later approach issues with a fresh perspective.

Acknowledge – Defer – Step Away. It’s a three-step mantra I have used in countless situations over the years. Hopefully, it is one you will find useful as you brave the cold of winter, keeping a hopeful eye towards the upcoming spring.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday.