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Of Course…Of Course…Of Course

June 22, 2015

These two simple words might actually have the power to have a profound impact on your relationship with your kiddo.  Or at the very least, they may have the power to you feel calmer during those moments of absurdity that come with parenting a child of trauma.  Because you have already gotten REALLY good at understanding how trauma impacts your child’s brain (it is one of the trauma momma superpowers, after all!) then the words “Of Course” make perfect sense.

OF COURSE hearing the word “NO” sends your child into a Level 4 rage.

OF COURSE being asked to do a simple chore causes your child to completely shut down.

OF COURSE your child screams his head off because dinner is in four minutes, not RIGHT THIS SECOND.  (I mean, you are actually plating it and getting it on the table, but it’s just not fast enough).

OF COURSE your child sabotages his brother’s birthday party.  OF COURSE he sabotages his OWN birthday party.

OF COURSE your child longs to go back with the parents who hurt her in incomprehensible ways.

OF COURSE your child is climbing out of her car seat while you go flying down the highway.

The world is coherent.  We are always moving toward coherence.  Behaviors makes sense.  Always.  Even when it doesn’t make any sense, it makes sense that it doesn’t make any sense.

Of course.

of course

Try it now.  Think of the most absurd thing that’s happened in your house today.  Bring that picture to mind.  Say to yourself “Of course.”

The words “Of course” inherently bring order and coherence.  They instantly calm the amygdala…even if just a little.  They help you find that “proverbial pause” that is so important before you respond.  “Of course” helps you find compassion and understanding.  “Of course” brings coherence into your own body, which then allows you to approach your child with coherence instead of chaos.

I’m not saying this will solve all your problems and most certainly it will not stop your child raging in the moment.  Though you may find that the rage ends sooner because you’ve stopped pushing against it.

Want to know another secret?  You can try this with EVERYONE!!  OF COURSE your best friend was hurtful when she said that.  OF COURSE you felt hurt!  OF COURSE your spouse got defensive and stormed off.  OF COURSE your child’s teacher has no idea what to do with a traumatized student.

I had the extreme good fortune of spending four days with Kent Hoffman training to become a Circle of Security Parent Educator.  He suggested giving these two simple words- Of Course- to parents who are struggling to understand their child’s behaviors.  A colleague at my table leaned over and said “You use those words a lot when you are training parents.”  I thought for a moment- she’s right. A parent will raise their hand and either tell me some outrageous thing their child did, or they’ll ‘confess’ to me the way they reacted to that outrageous behavior.  I can hear myself in my head now….I say “Of course.  Of course they did that.  Of course you reacted that way.”  With complete understanding and compassion.  Without any judgment.  The other week I met with a mom who was lamenting some particularly bizarre thing her son was doing.  I caught myself saying “Of course he {insert bizarre behavior here}.”  Those words DO bring coherence into the room.  They take the edge off.  This momma breathed a heavy sigh, looked at me with heavy eyes, and leaned back into my couch.  Yes, of course.

{Side note…after I titled this blog entry, I spent the rest of the day hearing Cake’s version of Doris Day’s “Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps” in my head.  “Of course, of course, of course.”}




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Don’t miss Trust Based Parenting…In Real Life!!!  A one-time only, six-hour workshop for parents in West Michigan (Jenison) on August 8, 2015.  Click here for more details and to register!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Karmin permalink
    June 22, 2015 8:55 am

    You are so right. You DO say, “Of course,” and they are two of the most reassuring words I’ve heard in my parenting/counseling history. Never condemning, ever understanding, always giving an “answer” to the crazy behaviors. Thanks for this. I will begin using “Of Course” here at home!

    • June 22, 2015 8:48 pm

      It has been such a surprising compliment to hear people tell me I’ve been using the words “of course” when it mattered most. I can hear myself saying it, but I’ve never really noticed before how often I do say it. Never condemning and always understanding. Wow. I’m really humbled and just so grateful that has been your experience. Thanks for taking the time to say hello Karmin!!!

  2. Terri Fenner permalink
    June 22, 2015 1:22 pm

    Great article, of course….helps us sub-mom’s stay on “course” to helping our little ones heal.

    • June 22, 2015 8:49 pm

      Thanks Terri! I love your play on words- I do hope that ‘of course’ helps moms and dads ‘stay the course.’ It’s a rocky one indeed. So grateful for all the moms and dads, short and long term, who are committed to these sweet babies.

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