|How to Stay Calm and in Control while Dealing with your Child|
STEP #1: Recognize your triggers.
- Why do you lose your temper?
- Understanding our triggers as the adult is just as important as trying to figure out what sets our kids off so that we can help them control themselves.
- What emotional triggers or physical sensations in your body can you identify?
- What behaviors of your child trigger you?
When you are able to recognize what frustrates you the most, you are on the path to stopping your temper from boiling over.
Step #2: Find new ways to communicate.
Things to avoid:
- Giving the child the silent treatment
- Withdrawing from the family
- Giving overly harsh punishments in the heat of the moment
- Saying snide or sarcastic remarks
- Swearing and name calling
Remember you are modeling how to deal with anger and frustration for your child and to express it appropriately.
Step #3: Find your strategies to calm.
Finding a calming strategy that works for you can stop you from losing your temper
- Walk away (literally); For older kids, you can even say “You know, I’m not ready to talk to you about this right now so I’m going to be alone for a few moments until I can calm down.”
- Practice deep breathing: Pause when you feel yourself getting angry or intensely frustrated. Inhale SLOWLY making your abdomen rise/expand and take in a full breath. Pause for a moment at the top of your breath and slowly and fully exhale through your nose or mouth. Try to do this ten times.
- Count backwards: Before opening your mouth to respond, consider counting backwards towards calmness, until you are in a different place. The more stressed out your feel, the higher the number you would begin counting backward from.
- Long-term strategies: For longer-term calming practices, integrate physical exercise into your weekly routine. This can come in the form of yoga, meditation, running, biking or simply walking.
Step # 4: Communicate calmly.
- Do not approach them if they are still raging at you or you are still too angry to talk.
- Keep your comments brief and to the point.
- Don’t dwell on what just happened. When you are finished, move on to something else.
“I really don’t appreciate it when I come home from work and you haven’t done any of your chores. Please do them now.”
“I don’t like it when you take your brother’s toys and make him cry. The consequence for that is that your train now is in time-out for 20 minutes, while you practice better behavior.”
“You know the rule in our house is completing homework before television. No more TV for the night.”
Step #5: Choose Your Battles.
What about your child’s behavior in the home is most important to you? Prioritize! Pick your battles!
For younger kids, there are a lot of daily behaviors that can be frustrating: at this age kids are messy, they cry easily, they have meltdowns, and they can be grouchy.
11-18 year olds tend to be messy, moody, irresponsible and unfocused. Is it important that your child completes chores, has a semi-clean room, and is respectful? If so, then make it clear what your expectations are and let the rest (the occasional mess, the roll of the eyes, the moody/grouchy behavior) roll off your back.
Step #6: Apologize when you are in the wrong.
It is very powerful and a great gift for a parent to admit their faults and offering a sincere apology to their child. Modeling this type of humility shows a child that we are all human and that even parents make mistakes.
Step #7: Find Support.
Pick trusted friends or family members who will support you through your parenting years.
Find like-minded parents who you feel safe confiding in when you’ve exploded and feel ashamed or guilty.
Make sure you nurture these relationships so you have a sounding board (and can return the favor) when you are at your wits end.
People may have to “earn your story”: you may not want to divulge your worst parenting moments to other parents or family members who are judgmental, or who express shock or dismay at your momentary lapse in parenting judgment. It is likely these people will only make your feel worse about yourself.
Step #8: Be Kind to Yourself. There is no such thing as a perfect parent.
Lastly, practice self-care by being kind and forgiving towards yourself. Parents are harder on themselves than any other group of individuals I know of.
This is born out of intense feelings of love and concern for our kids, as well as the desire to get it all right all the time.
But there’s no such things as a perfect parent who does it all right, all the time.
Most of us are lucky if we can get through the day being a “good enough” parent.
Whether you lose your temper once or twenty times, acknowledge to yourself that you’ve made mistakes, and commit to doing better in the future.
Acknowledge that you aren’t perfect, that you may have future tantrums, but that you are human and fallible.
Forgive yourself for past indiscretions and move forward with the goal that you will start each day aiming to try your best, forgiving yourself if you weren’t great, and praising yourself when you find you are parenting at your best.