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You Need to Know Your “Button” In Parenting

Every parent has a hot button that gets pushed whenever a *certain* behavior happens. What’s yours? What’s that one behavior that just throws you over the edge, every time you see it?

It’s important to know what your hot button is because once it’s pushed, your emotional control slips and you start to function out of emotion rather than logic. It’s that feeling of discomfort and annoyance, deep inside your chest, that you can’t seem to shake.

It’s similar to the way you feel when you see a person that you really dislike. Whenever they walk into the room, you’re immediately annoyed and snappy. Except with a parenting “hot button,” those feelings are directed at a certain behavior instead of a certain person.

For me, my hot button is absolutely, without a doubt, BULLYING.

Not only do I dislike seeing someone bully another person, but the reins on my emotional control loosen whenever I see it happening.

When my husband and I worked as the house parents of a group home for behavioral teenagers, I knew that I could never be the parent to give out disciplinary consequences when it came to bullying. I always consequenced too heavily and did so without empathy. I hate the root cause of the behavior, and my brain convinces me that the child engaging in the behavior is AWARE of the root cause.

They’re not, but that issue is such a hot button for me that I forget that detail in the moment.

For my husband, his hot button is dramatization. When he sees a kid fake crying or whining just to manipulate a situation, his eyes roll all the way to heaven. He can’t stand it, and the feeling he gets causes him to be less empathetic and patient than usual.

Obviously, both of us are working hard to get over those extreme frustrations (our “buttons”), but more than anything, it’s important for us to acknowledge that we feel that way so we can address it. If I don’t know what my button is, I won’t be able to admit how irrational I’m being when giving a consequence for that behavior.

It’s matters so much more than what people want to admit.

What’s your hot button in parenting/teaching? The one behavior that gets under your skin more than any other behavior…

Is it whining? Is it arguing? Bullying? Physical violence? Drug use? Manipulation? Lying? Stealing? Crudeness? Yelling?

If you don’t know what yours is, I guarantee you your kids do! When things are calm, ask them about it.

“What do I get REALLY upset about?”

They’ll be honest, probably even painfully so, but you’ll find out which areas you need to work on being in better control emotionally.

Spend some time this week talking with your family and trying to figure that bothersome behavior out. It’s not necessarily the behavior than puts you in sensory overload, where everything is too loud and too busy and just TOO MUCH, but instead is something different. It’s the behavior you find most inexcusable. The one that causes you to feel like a child is almost beyond help – that they’re doing this behavior on purpose and therefore don’t deserve your help.

What is that for you? Which behavior pushes your no-empathy button?

You Need to Know Your “Button” In Parenting

W. R. Cummings

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APA Reference
Cummings, W. (2019). You Need to Know Your “Button” In Parenting. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 17, 2019, from


Last updated: 13 Mar 2019
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