Keep Calm with Kids
“Between the stimulus and response, there is a space, in that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness”Viktor Franklin
While we all know that we should maintain our composure in front of kids, we still fall into the trap. It could be when we see them playing instead of doing their homework, despite our having told them multiple times. Or when we have finally got a moment to relax and they start complaining about being bored. Or they have yet again messed up their room or worse, the house, right after we had cleaned it up.
We all are guilty of losing our temper around kids, whether we like it or not. We get annoyed if they do not listen to us or follow the rules that we have laid down for them. As parents, it is an endless struggle leading to frustration, exhaustion and guilt.
The reasons could be innumerable, depending on what trigger(s) you. The reactions are same – we either yell at them or give them the silent treatment. Unfortunately, both are bad.
So, what do we do? How do we remain the calm and soothing parent we want to be?
1. Step Back and Breathe
Almost everyone talks about the importance of counting to ten, of breathing deeply. The thing is, everyone talks about it for a reason – it works. Take a few deep breaths.
When you are angry, your breathing becomes quick and shallow, giving a signal of fight-or-flight to the brain. Breathing deeply removes that signal and lets the brain examine the situation from a more unbiased (non fight-or-flight) angle.
Delaying your response to a stimuli, will give you the power to choose how to react. You will not be reacting in anger. Your reactions will be thoughtful, so BREATHE.
2. It is not about you
Remember that it is not always about you. The child did not mess up the room to anger you or increase your work. He is not playing instead of doing his homework to show you anything. In most cases, the kid is doing something because it gives him pleasure. His only purpose is to have a good time.
When you were a kid, you also must have done some of these acts, and it was almost never to anger your parents. Remember that before you react.
3. Take time to listen
It is important for us to understand the child’s point of view. Listen to what he has to say. Try to understand his concerns, his desires, what prompts his actions. This is something that has to be done at all times, not just after a trigger that has made you angry.
Understanding what motivates the child helps us to see why he would react in a particular way in a given situation. He might find Mathematics tough and that is why when you ask him to do his homework (which you might realize later is Math), he prefers to play instead of studying. If you understand his fear of the subject, it might help you understand his behavior and act on it without getting angry.
4. Show your displeasure calmly
There are times when the kids break the rules you have set for them. They might have reasons. You might understand those reasons, but you still feel that they should have followed the rules. What do you do in such a situation? They need to be told that they have overstepped. They need to be told that it was not right.
Even in such situations, take a deep breath and then tell them in a calm tone, though strict. Explain what you expected and where they went wrong. Know beforehand that the child will say something that will put you on edge. He will say a statement that will bring your furious self out. Every time that happens, take a few deep breaths, and continue in a calm tone.
Do not take up their anger and throw it back at them.
5. Have a Me-time
This is the most important thing you can do to keep your sanity. Every day have some me-time, where you do what you want to do, even if it is for 20 minutes or half an hour. Take out time for yourself. Read, listen to music, dance, paint, have a long hot-water bath. Do what you love. Do something that gives you happiness and calms your senses.
Even a short rejuvenating session will help you go through the rest of the day in a calm and composed manner.
6. Manage your time – Make a To-Do list
In most cases, while triggers that lead to anger could be many, the reason why we give in to them, is because we are already flustered with ten other things. We are running late for our appointment and the child has spilled the juice. The project deadline is upon us and the kid is screaming. A lot of these triggers can be reduced if we learn to manage our time better.
One thing that has worked wonder for me is making a daily To-Do list. I make it using the old-fashioned pen and paper. There are a number of apps as well that you may use. Be diligent and make it every day. Once the rest of your life is better managed, your stress levels are lower and every small thing doesn’t anger you anymore.
7. Look forward
I have realized that feeling guilty has bad repercussions. The only thing we can do is make a different choice in the future. Always look forward. There is no point in shouting at the kid one day, then feeling so guilty over it that you let him do what he wants the next, then get upset over how he behaved. Consistency is the key.
We all have our bad days. But it is okay if we try to come back to normal the next. Swinging from one end to the other will only make it worse.
Do let me know how you keep your calm around your kids. I’d love to hear your ideas.