Before I had kids I often imagined how I’d always be able to stay calm and I’d never say any of the angry things my mum said to me when I was a child. It shows how little I knew about parenting back then. It may be easy to keep your cool when you’re lying by the pool after a full night’s sleep, fantasising what it would be like to be a mum. Reality, when sleep and lying by the pool have long become faint memories, is a whole different matter.
Your children will inevitably push your buttons and you will feel angry, lost and frustrated. In those moments painful feelings cloud our good judgment and effective behaviour options become difficult to see. What helps is to have a plan and a few tricks up your sleeve ahead of time, so when those situations arise you know what to do. Here are some of the tools I use when my kids are driving me crazy.
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Take a few deep breaths
Unless someone is in danger, there’s no reason why you should react immediately and not wait for a few seconds. Give yourself the space to think and remember some techniques you can use to reconnect with your children on a deeper level.
See the world from your children’s point of view
Depending on your mood and your child’s personality this can be easy or it can be a real challenge. One of my children’s personalities is very similar to mine and seeing the world as he’d see it can be effortless. All I need to do is look through the eyes of the younger me. My other two children are very different and imagining what the world looks like requires some flights of fantasy. It helps to practice seeing through your children’s eyes when you’re feeling happy. It’s fascinating what you learn about them and it becomes easier when you’re not at your best.
Imagine your children as a babies
When you’re about to snap, bring up the image of your children as tiny babies, when they were helpless, vulnerable and entirely dependent on you. Usually just bringing up the image makes my eyes teary and I feel a big surge of love that helps me make a better decisions. On some level my children are still my babies and always will be.
Pretend that someone’s watching
It’s not the most comfortable thing to admit, but most of us are less likely to react with anger if we’re in public. Does that mean that what strangers think is more important to us than our kids (a scary thought)? Of course not, but good behaviour in public has been drilled into us to the point of becoming automatic, so we instinctively lower our voices and put on polite smiles. You can use this to defuse the situation when you’re at home simply by pretending that you have an audience.
Practice on yourself
Even with all the preparation you can get, there’ll still be times when you stuff up and go off at your kids. And you probably make bad decisions now and then in other areas in your life, too. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself the love and compassion you’d like to give to your children. We all make mistakes – forgive, learn from them and move on.
Image by Spirit-Fire via Flickr.com
By Tatiana Apostolova