Best Self Magazine

Getting Unhooked: Learning to Detach From Reactivity in Parenting

Getting Unhooked, detaching from reactivity in parenting, photograph of parent and child by Matt Hoffman

Photograph by Matt Hoffman

Getting ‘hooked’ by reactivity in parenting and old habits is inevitable; what we do with those emotions is optional

We all know what it feels like to get hooked by something in life. It happens every day. Little things and big things — a look, a thought, an experience — grab us viscerally. A tear in our jacket, a tone of voice, a failing grade, an unexpected rainstorm. The hook is a burning, restless urge that craves relief because we feel attacked, disappointed, uncertain, or confused.

Getting hooked, we easily lose track of our best intentions. A meticulous sleep plan collapses as a visceral sensation takes hold, and we leap into reaction. We finally go downstairs to spend a moment with our spouse and then hear a child tiptoe down the stairwell, for the third night in a

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