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#203150 - 06/09/10 07:11 PM Emotional Response vs. Measured Reaction
Krista Offline
Member

Registered: 03/03/10
Posts: 101
Loc: North Carolina
While cleaning at one end of the house, I hear my 3 year old start screaming at the other end, in the kitchen. “Help Me Momma!” Now, as any parent knows, that creates an immediate emotional response that borders on panic, but is carefully restrained in case the catastrophe is not really that big of a deal. Children see our panic, and it makes them panic. I stormed into the kitchen prepared to see blood everywhere… only to see… nothing. No blood, no daughter! I hear her though, and charge blindly towards the sound of her voice. Finally, I see her. Stuck in the space between the refrigerator and the wall (you know, that space that’s big enough for a broom, mop and stepladder). She had gone in, and couldn’t get back out. Relief washed over me as I helped her out.

The experience got me to thinking about the instant that I was “charging blindly”. What if this had been an entirely different type of situation? Say we were hiking, and a snake bit her and I charged blindly… into the fangs of a rattler?? Then, not only would her life be on the line, but so would mine! How could I tend to her if I were injured or severely hurt because I had gone unknowingly into the very thing that had endangered her?

Do you think that in my hypothetical situation about the snake, my brains would over-ride my emotions at the critical time? Any thoughts on how to work on finding the safest balance between emotional response and measured reaction? Emotions make our reactions faster, so is that something that really needs to be buffered? Could reigning in my emotions and being more cautious mean the precious few seconds between life and death? That’s not something that I really know if you can prepare for. Kind of disturbing.
_________________________
Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.

~Marion C. Garretty



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#203155 - 06/09/10 08:40 PM Re: Emotional Response vs. Measured Reaction [Re: Krista]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
I'm sure that parents have been asking themselves this same question since babies were invented. I think you did fine, so don't be too harsh on yourself.

I think there are certainly situations where taking a moment to stand back and assess things would be best, but there are certainly other situations where reacting as quickly as possible would be the best. E.g. your child is in the street when he cries out and could be run over at any moment by a car.

I would say that there is no right or wrong answer because every situation is different. However, the ability to transition between them if you find yourself in the wrong "mode" for the given situation is a handy skill. E.g. "charging blindly" at the first screams but then quickly switching to an observe-assess mode in the snake example you gave once you became aware of the snake.

There are certain situations where you could certainly try always follow a more measured approach, but those situations are generally rather specific and specialized. E.g. first aid situations could benefit from certain decision trees that force you to slow down (e.g. ABC's, LAF-look, ask, feel, and so on) instead of just instinctually doing something that might hurt the child even more like instinctually picking them up and hugging them close.

But the range of possible trouble scenarios involving a child are so varied that I don't think anyone can or should advocate always doing a measured vs more emotional response. And it's certainly 100% natural for any parent to almost blindly go to their child's aid, and we humans haven't died out (yet) so it seems to work all right for us. smile

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#203159 - 06/09/10 09:40 PM Re: Emotional Response vs. Measured Reaction [Re: Krista]
bsmith Offline
day hiker
Addict

Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 589
Loc: ventura county, ca
when i worked in an e.r. i found it best to calm the parent(s) first, if needed. once the parent(s) were down off the ceiling looking nonplussed, the child's anxiety and fears were typically gone too.

the kids look to the parents - if the parents appear to think it's no big deal, it isn't. even if it is.
_________________________
“Everyone should have a horse. It is a great way to store meat without refrigeration. Just don’t ever get on one.”
- ponder's dad

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#203162 - 06/09/10 11:19 PM Re: Emotional Response vs. Measured Reaction [Re: bsmith]
comms Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/23/08
Posts: 1502
Loc: Mesa, AZ
I think there may actually be a happy medium...practiced response. I have seen people who are very even keeled in life, when put into a crisis, can move swiftly and decisively, making accurate decisions and giving accurate direction but moving fast.
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Don't just survive. Thrive.

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#203164 - 06/10/10 01:03 AM Re: Emotional Response vs. Measured Reaction [Re: Arney]
Krista Offline
Member

Registered: 03/03/10
Posts: 101
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: comms
I think there may actually be a happy medium...practiced response. I have seen people who are very even keeled in life, when put into a crisis, can move swiftly and decisively, making accurate decisions and giving accurate direction but moving fast.


and this... is exactly what I would like to achieve! smile

Originally Posted By: bsmith


the kids look to the parents - if the parents appear to think it's no big deal, it isn't. even if it is.


so very true!

Originally Posted By: Arney
I'm sure that parents have been asking themselves this same question since babies were invented. I think you did fine, so don't be too harsh on yourself.

There are certain situations where you could certainly try always follow a more measured approach, but those situations are generally rather specific and specialized. E.g. first aid situations could benefit from certain decision trees that force you to slow down (e.g. ABC's, LAF-look, ask, feel, and so on) instead of just instinctually doing something that might hurt the child even more like instinctually picking them up and hugging them close.



thanks arney. great advice, too. smile
_________________________
Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.

~Marion C. Garretty



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#203165 - 06/10/10 01:11 AM Re: Emotional Response vs. Measured Reaction [Re: Krista]
Jesselp Offline
What's Next?
Enthusiast

Registered: 07/19/07
Posts: 263
Loc: New York
In EMT school the first thing that they drill into you is "scene safety." You don't want to become an additional victim of whatever situation you are responding to, no matter how much the scene calls out for immediate action. When I'm rolling up to a scene in my ambulance, I'm pretty good about taking this to heart.

If my kid is screaming out in terror or pain, it's a lot harder to do. That said, when I see my wife getting hysterical, it reminds me of the need to stay calm so that someone can make rational decisions, which helps. (Nothing disparaging intended towards my wife or her gender. That's just the rolls we play in our family. She gets hysterical, and when she does, its my job to take over making decisions that need to be made quickly.)
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http://spligovia.blogspot.com
A blog about adventure
in and around New York

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#203197 - 06/10/10 06:43 PM Re: Emotional Response vs. Measured Reaction [Re: Jesselp]
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
Try to focus not just on the child, but on the approach to the child. As you pointed out, when the rescuer (you) needs to be rescued, that puts the child in far more danger. Knee-jerk reactions without thought can intensify the problem.

I, on the other hand, hear that high-pitched shriek that children make for no reason (sometimes referred to as 'the birth control shriek'), and head in the opposite direction.

Sue

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#203225 - 06/11/10 01:02 AM Re: Emotional Response vs. Measured Reaction [Re: Krista]
pforeman Offline
Member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 190
Loc: Iowa
To me this is an interesting topic... I've been involved in education and adult training for most of my adult life and with that, doing a lot of work in law enforcement, corrections and with EMS personnel. The one thing that stands out to me is the old (but true) saying: you will do what you train.

Having been an EMT, cop and worked with emergency services I learned to react to emergency situations as I've trained and after the situation is 'over' is when the emotional reaction hits. So, I think it is something that can be learned if you have the chance to do so and work at it. It also may be that it will also take a specific type of personality too... but I don't know about that.

For example, last year my wife had a medical emergency and after I did what I could as an initial response (first aid) I hit 911 and got the pros rolling to help us. When talking to the dispatcher I was able to provide vitals, directions and initial necessary information to help the paramedics and give them some information to work with while on the way. When they got here, I had propped open the front door, had the porch light on to help indicate our house and had tossed the entry way rug out of the way and got our little dog secured. They came in and I could give them a detailed report of what happened, timelines and my responses along with my wife's reactions, current medications, etc. I was able to help do the 'paperwork' during the assessment process (three person crews are great - two work with the patient and one does the documentation). As they drove away, that's when I got the shakes and went "oh, crap" about the situation.

I spent about 20 minutes getting myself back together and then went up to the hospital. The whole point is, I went into 'professional mode' when I had to and didn't 'think' or mull it over. It wasn't a blind reaction but a shift into a trained response and practiced set of steps that I was able to follow. It's just something to think about and consider if you too can train yourself to respond in a specific way to these situations - take a first aid class, do some volunteer work if you can and that could help. You didn't do anything wrong in your response and by recognizing the potential negative consequences of rushing in is a long way to learning an improved response. Good luck and be sure to keep the kids out from behind the refrigerator!

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#203362 - 06/13/10 03:08 AM Re: Emotional Response vs. Measured Reaction [Re: Krista]
CentralOklahoma Offline
Newbie

Registered: 03/04/07
Posts: 45
Loc: Oklahoma
I am happy your daughter is safe and okay. I have two daughters myself ages 3 and 6.

One thing I have taught them is to be safe and not play in confined spaces such as closets, in clothes hampers, in dryers, ect... Also to not put things around their necks and over their heads and faces. Accidental stangulation and suffication can be quick killers of small children.

One of my experiences was to have my oldest daughter come to me in the kitchen and say "Sister has the ballons string around her neck and can't get it off". We had just had a birthday party a few days before and they had left over helium ballons with RIBBON as string.

I quickly got to little sister (I ALWAYS CARRY A SHARP SPYDERCO SERRATED RESCUE KNIFE ON ME!!!) to find that she had gotten untangled on her own. That is exactly the situation that re enforced the idea to replace that near impossible to break RIBBON with easy to break YARN anytime we have helium ballons in the house. Also another talk about not puitting things around our necks.

I have also reminded them that it is okay to shout for help when they need help.

Teaching my children to take care of themselves and each other is one of the top goals in life.

CP in Oklahoma


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#203384 - 06/13/10 07:10 PM Re: Emotional Response vs. Measured Reaction [Re: CentralOklahoma]
ki4buc Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 710
Loc: Augusta, GA
Everyone should read "How We Decide" by Jonah Lehrer. Very very good book detailing what we know about the brain today and the difference between "emotional" and "rational" thought and which one is in charge.

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