3 Tips for Staying Calm When Your Kids Aren't
On my blog I share a lot of information about preventing behavior, redirecting behavior, modeling respect, and problem solving. While knowing and using these tools and strategies can definitely help reduce behavior problems, disrespect, and power struggles, we are all still human. There will still be times that children will have a tantrum and a parent might yell or react in a way they are not proud of. It is impossible to stay calm all of the time. It’s one thing to know what to do, and another to actually be able to do those things in the middle of real life moments, when emotions are high and patience is low. Here are some simple strategies that can help you stay calm and grounded amidst the chaos.
Press Pause. Stop what you’re doing and don’t react. Just observe what your child or children are doing. It’s okay to not always have the answer and know what to do in every situation. If you’re stuck, just pause and wait until you’re ready. Know when you need to walk out of the room for a moment. There is no shame in taking a break so you can better handle a situation. If you’re in a relationship, have a plan with your partner to step in for each other when you really need it. There have been times I’ve told my children, “I’m feeling really frustrated so I’m going to the other room for a moment.” This not only allows me to calm down, it also models a great coping skill to children.
Deep breaths. Breath in, breath out. Count if that helps. Deep breathing relieves stress and anxious responses in the nervous system. When people are anxious, they tend to take shorter or more shallow breaths. By focusing on deep breaths, you can help calm yourself before redirecting your child’s behavior.
Pick a mantra and repeat it to yourself. Mantras are a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself aloud or in your mind to help calm your emotions. Some people think this is cheesy, but the research shows that it is a great strategy to become mindful of your feelings, actions and words, and get grounded in the moment. By repeating mantras, it helps remind you of your intentions, your strength, and what your child truly needs while they are experiencing a difficult emotion. These simple statements can open your eyes to what is really happening in the situations and give you perspective, while giving you a moment to regain your confidence. Here are some examples of mantras that I think are helpful in difficult moments. Pick one or make up one that works for you!
I can do this
My kids need me
Ride this wave
Find your center
I am their mom
I will be here for you
My child deserves respect
I will be your calm
I will be present
If you do end up yelling or reacting in a way that was not helpful to the situation, acknowledge that. Let your child know that you didn’t intend to act that way, but were frustrated and did. Let them know how you wished you responded and what you will try next time. Remind your child that you love them and you’re doing the best you can but sometimes make mistakes. Kids can be very forgiving, and this also models taking responsibility for one’s actions, which is a great life lesson.