If you have an eye-rolling teen, don’t be offended by the gesture. This is why.
There is this interesting technique for creating calm from within, where you cast your eyes upward and look at the sky for a few seconds. It’s a self-soother. Picture yourself looking heavenward and saying, “Why me?” That’s the self-soothing gesture I’m talking about!
When you actively decide to make yourself feel better by looking upward,
- you are empowering yourself
- you are interrupting whatever negative cycle you might be in
- your mood improves
Interestingly enough, it doesn’t matter if you believe this works or not. You get the same benefits just going through the motions. And it certainly can’t hurt anything, right? So, give it a try.
Now, back to your kids. When they roll their eyes, they are instinctively soothing themselves. When we… (okay, I mean “I”) perceive I’m being disrespected, it only serves to escalate the situation.
However, once I recognized my middle-schooler’s eye-rolling as a sign of her distress, as opposed to being a sign of my disrespect, my reaction changed to one of support (How can I help my daughter?), instead of defense and indignation (What did I do to deserve that?).
BTW, heaving a sigh is also a self-soother. I’ve always huffed when exasperated, but now I recognize that I feel better after. Noisy exhalations are now official members of my toolbox.
The moral of this story? Rejoice when your teens heave a sigh and roll their eyes. They feel better! (and can cope better) 😉