Today I am thankful for hesitation. When we hesitate, we afford ourselves time to think, reflect, and respond to situations rather than react. This week, hesitation helped me from getting into a power struggle, and ultimately damaging a relationship.

After two days of working with a great group in Pennsylvania, I returned home quite late, and discovered Micah had not gotten home yet. Being after his curfew, I waited up, dwelling on the fact I needed to sleep since I would be leaving for work six hours from that time. When Micah got home, we had a very brief unfortunate exchange before I hesitated and said, “Let’s talk about this tomorrow.” Fortunately, after a night of sleep, rest and reflection, he apologized, I apologized, and we worked through the concern.

What is the lesson? Timing. When you address behavior is just as important as how you address it. Parents, don’t ask about your child’s behavior the second you pick him or her up from school. Don’t ask to see the behavior folder right away. Press “pause” and let the dust settle. Behavior concerns can be addressed later in the evening when our children aren’t in “fight or flight” mode.

Of course, this theme of “step away” is woven through many of my posts, so teachers and parents, alike, remember, you can’t reason with an unreasonable person. If unsure about how information will be received, step back, hold that thought, and talk at a neutral time. By doing so, you will not only be in a better position to create behavior change, but if handled well, you will also strengthen a relationship in the process.