When you try to manage your child’s behavior instead of your own anxiety, what you’re saying is, ‘I’m out of control’. It is important to understand that if you yourself are not in the best frame of mind, it can affect your young one. You need to accept that – I need you to change so that I can feel better.
When you get yourself under control, your kids will also usually calm down. Remember, calm is contagious—and so is anxiety. When we as parents are nervous or anxious, it’s been proven that it creates anxiety in our kids. I would even go so far as to say that being emotionally reactive is probably your greatest concern as a parent. Think of it this way: if you can’t get calm—if you can’t get to zero—then what you’re really doing is inadvertently creating the exact atmosphere you’re trying to avoid.
Your anxiety gets reflected in your kids, so does your sadness or hyperactivity. The important aspect to understand is – If you are happy and calm – so will be your kids.
Following are some aspects that can help you remain calm:
Recognize your triggers.
The first step is understanding the reason for losing your temper. Understanding our triggers as adults is just as important as trying to figure out what sets our kids off so that we can help them control themselves. When you are able to recognize what frustrates you the most, you are on the path of stopping your temper from boiling over.
Find new ways to communicate.
For most parents, what we feel the worst about after we lose it is – how we’ve talked to our child. Too often parents fall into bad communication habits we learned from our own parents when we were growing up. It is important for us to realize that we shouldn’t take out our anger and frustration on our children.
Find your strategies to calm.
Finding a calming strategy that works for you can stop you from losing your temper. Some ideas are:
Walk away (literally): When you find you are about to lose it, walk away from your child. Not only does this prevent you from starting down the wrong path, it models for your child an appropriate response when they are feeling overwhelmed themselves. For older kids, feel free to 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: There are many times when I stop mid-sentence, sit down and use deep breathing to calm myself
Count backwards: Before opening your mouth to respond, consider counting backwards towards calmness, until you are in a different place. For some people this can be 100, for others it might be as simple as going from 10-0.
Long-term strategies: For longer-term calming practices, integrate physical exercise into your weekly routine. We are all busy, overworked, and short on time, but one way to be the best parent possible is to practice self care
Healthy communication relies on both you and your child being calm, so do not approach them if they are still raging at you or you are still too angry to talk. For both young children as well as adolescents, keep your comments brief and to the point.
Apologize when you are in the wrong.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is knowing when to admit you’ve done something wrong and apologizing
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.
Be Kind to Yourself.
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.. 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.