When our children are acting out or being defiant it is natural for us to be reactive and get angry. Let’s face it, who wants to get yelled at, talked back to, or ignored by their own child. I was raised with the “I have to teach them a lesson” parenting style. I have noticed if I am flipping out it isn’t actually teaching them anything other than more disrespect, more anger and more annoyance. I have gotten the best response and had the best teaching moments with my kids when I am calm. I end up connecting with them. We all take our responsibility and I leave feeling much better than when I lose it. Staying calm is easier said than done, right? The first step is to figure out what works for you. Here are our favorite strategies:
- Breathe: We tell our kids to breathe all the time but we have to remember to do it as well. It is actually the first step to getting you out of reaction mode because it gets you to stop. It will also get you to think about how you want to respond to the situation.
- Talk to yourself: I know this sound crazy but it works. It helps get the focus off of what is triggering you. I have said things like, “You can do this, don’t fall into the trap, what’s my goal, what do I want to happen right now”.
- Walk away: Even if it’s for a second to regroup, just do it. Walk in and out of the bathroom or your bedroom. Just get away from the stressor for a moment.
- Ground yourself: Too many times we get sucked into our children’s anger and frustration and we create a story around it. Ever thought, “Why are you doing this to me?”. When you ground yourself you take yourself out of the story and back into reality. You do this by asking yourself, “What is really happening”. You don’t look at the story but instead you look at the action. An example of this is, “They are purposely trying to delay doing their hw.” (the story) to “They are moving around, they are fiddling with their pencil, they are talking” (what is actually happening).
- Laugh: Because sometimes you just have to. We need to not take everything so seriously. Sometimes laughing at the craziness of the situation helps us to let it go.
This doesn’t mean that our kids are going to magically be perfect or even know how to get themselves calm without some support from us. It gives them good and appropriate behavior to model after when we use the strategies we want our kids to use as well. Ever find yourself yelling at your kids to stop yelling? When a problem arises take a moment to reflect on how you are reacting to the situation. Now ask yourself if that is how you want your kids to respond when something is stressing them out. If the answer you come up with is “Yes” then awesome give yourself a pat on the back and keep up the great work. If the answer is “No” it’s not a bad thing it simply means we get to learn and grow from it. Reflection gives us the opportunity to learn what’s working and build it up. It also helps us learn what’s not working so we can change what we want and need in order to be calm parents.