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Five tips for being a calmer parent

Did you lose your cool with the kids today? Did you feel terribly guilty later, and then berate yourself over and over for it? Don't worry, it happens to the best of us. We're not perfect parents, because those don't exist. We're human beings and we let our emotions get the better of us sometimes.

I have written about calming your toddler, but I realized that getting your child to cooperate is just half the story. As a parent, you have to model the behavior you expect from your children. You don't have to do it perfectly, but often, your tone sets their tone. You may have read this quote:

The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. 

-Peggy O'Mara


So it follows that, if we want our kids to be calmer and less prone to tantrums, we must learn to regulate our own emotions when dealing with them, and strive to be calmer parents. 

Five tips for being a calmer parent

These are five things you can do to be a calmer parent:


1. Recognize the anger


When your child does something 'wrong', it is upsetting from your point of view. Sometimes, you are fully aware that they are just acting their age, but the anger gets the better of you. That's where you need to recognize it and stop right there. It's okay to be upset about your child's behavior, but you probably know from experience that anger doesn't help things much. It only makes everything you say or do come out uglier.

2. Listen, before you speak


We naturally assume things before we allow our children to express their point of view. Sometimes, even the silliest and most annoying behaviors have innocent causes. Your toddler was really curious about the potted plant, or your older kid just wanted to experiment with how a scissor works. The end result may be a disaster to you, but their intentions usually aren't to drive you mad. I have learnt from experience, even in the worst looking scenarios, to simply ask your child why they did what they did. Of course, you must then tell them why they shouldn't do it again - but listening to it from their perspective may help subside your anger, and also prevent your child from being even more rebellious.

3. Defer your reaction


You can't go from being angry to not being angry in just a few minutes. Take a deep breath and move away from where you are if you have to. Just don't react when you still have anger inside you. Give yourself some time to assess the behavior, and decide how you want to respond. If you make a habit of this, you will gradually become calmer and will project a gentler disposition to your child. But do remember to lay down the rules. Set the limits that can't be crossed and how you want your children to deal with the consequences.

4. Talk through your feelings


It's not just for children to communicate their feelings. Parents should be open about how they feel about their child's upsetting behavior. This must be handled in an age-appropriate way, of course. But talking about how you felt, even if you got angry, opens the doors to communication with your children. At times, I have even apologized to my toddler when I felt that my anger was way out of line for the cause. I did make it clear when something wasn't acceptable, but I admitted my mistake too. You don't have to do that, but it's not a bad idea to express why something annoyed you in the first place.

5. Take time out for yourself


When you don't have a clear head on your shoulders, it's easy to snap at insignificant things. Some days are harder than others, and that's exactly when you should take a small break from the routine and just calm down and relax. Your schedule may only allow you 20 or 30 minutes of alone time, but use it to think about how you can make your day better and de-stress. You may even want to change the routine a bit to make yourself feel better. Whatever you do, don't lose focus on your well-being too!



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48 comments

Clare Scott said...

Some great reminders here Tarana! #PoCoLo

freefromfairy said...

What a wonderfully useful post with some great reminders of how we can stay calm when we really don't feel like it! I hate the thought of my voice being my kids inner voice! All it seems to do is nag!!! Eek. That sounds like my inner voice. Time to do something different! #PoCoLo

Karen Bell said...

Good tips and reminders. It is all so easy to get carried away in situations.

Kgomotso said...

These are really great tips, thank you! I like the one about checking you anger and often find that it's when I take a deep breath and not give in to my anger that I realise that when I think my son is being naughty, it is not a big deal in the great scheme of things. Lovely post #PoCoLo

Niki said...

Great tips and o so true! Struggling with number 5 as the toddler doesn't even leave me alone on the toilet, she must and will always want to have cuddles when I sit on the toilet, or she'd start poking me. :) #PoCoLo

Merlinda Little said...

A nice list. My fave is no. 5. I think us parents needs a time out too to think and rest and look at things from a distance so that we have better view of things =) #pocolo

Maria said...

Wonderful tips. #2 is a big eye opener for me. It's so easy to get carried away with anger, that often we don't put ourselves on the receiving end of our rage. But your simple advice of asking your child, "why did you do (xyz)" may elicit more of a conversation about boundaries or right and wrong, rather than a swift and irrational reprimand. Thank you for sharing!

Zena's Suitcase said...

Really helpful tips here. Not letting my emotions get the better of me is a big one for me, but I've got better at it with practise

Becky Wilkinson said...

What a lovely list. I'll be honest I usually HATE these kind of lists because they are so unrealistic but this one is just brill and I will definitely be remembering these! #PoCoLo

Lexis said...

Great post. I love Peggy's quote. It is definately needed at the moment as my little man is in the middle of a put poo everywhere phase.

Victoria Welton said...

What a great post. I am so with you on all of these tips and I have used them all but there have been times when anger gets the better of me (human nature I guess). But the one I can relate to most is point no 4. Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo x

Tarana said...

That's true, it is easy to let our emotions get the better of us.

Tarana said...

Yes, naughtiness is such a part of them, and we really must try to look at it just that way.

Tarana said...

Hang in there, Niki! At one time, my toddler was cling too. It will pass, I promise :)

Tarana said...

It really works when you take some time off!

Tarana said...

Exactly! Just asking them makes a huge difference.

Tarana said...

It does take a lot of practise!

Tarana said...

Thanks Clare!

Tarana said...

Yes, we as parents do tend to nag!

Tarana said...

So glad you like my list, Becky!

Tarana said...

Haha, that must be a real challenge! But really, I understand how tough that can be.

Tarana said...

Glad you could relate, Vicky!

whatkatysaid said...

So important to take 5 to calm down. Great post! #PoCoLo

Laura Powell-Corbett said...

Definitely important and I lose my cool more often these days as I get more pregnant its generally when he does something dangerous (like run across the car park) but should do more getting down to his level and asking.

Melissa Matters said...

Alone time and sleep is really important for me so I can stay calm throughout the day. Great tips.

Morgan Prince said...

Great post. I think time out for yourself is really important, to remember who we are and let our parenting side go. Sometimes you just need a break. Xx

Stacy-Ann Gooden said...

Great tips. I find that breathing helps. Before I yell, I take deep breaths and focus on speaking softer, but with base - if that makes sense. I want my kids to know I mean business, but I don't want to scare them.

Tarana said...

Toddlers do have thing for getting in danger's way, don't blame you!

Tarana said...

True, a little break can do wonders!

Tarana said...

Yes, these two are so vital for a parent's well-being.

Tarana said...

Good point about being clear that you want them to understand what they did wrong.

Louise George said...

Great tips. Trying not to react in anger is something I have really struggled with at times - I find taking a few moments out of the situation to compose myself really helps. Obviously that's not always possible but I do try and think more about how shouting just escalates the situation and force myself to speak more softly and slowly which also helps too. Thank you for sharing.

Jenny @ Unremarkable Files said...

Good reminders. I find it helpful to repeat to myself "They're not just doing it because they hate me, they're doing this because they're 2." (Or 5, or 13, or whatever age they happen to be at the time.


#sharewithme

Sarah Christie said...

You are so right, sometimes a 5 minute break makes everything so much less stressful x

Tarana said...

That's such a good point!

Tarana said...

It can be hard to control the anger, and I lose it at times too. It takes a lot of effort to be calmer!

Tarana said...

It definitely makes a difference!

You Baby Me Mummy said...

What a great post. I have been looking for something to think of when the stress starts so this is useful thanks x

TheMissusV said...

Great tops Tarana! I definitely need a lot of help in this department! Need to work on number 2 especially.

Sarah said...

Great tips Tarana! This is a work in process for me. It can be so hard in the moment. Taking a minute and then coming back to the situation definitely helps me.

Meredith said...

Great tips! I definitely use #4 a lot. Trying to explain to my kids what is going on. But, what I get frustrated with are the moments when they ignore me....can you write a post on that?? :)

Kristi - Finding Ninee said...

I think that stepping out of our brains and the moment is really really good advice. Every time I lose my cool, I regret it and when I remember to wait before speaking, it works. Thanks for some awesome reminders!

Tarana said...

It can be challenging, and I'm sure it's a struggle for every mom!

Tarana said...

Yes, it does help to take a break!

Tarana said...

Hehe, maybe we can figure something our for that!

Tarana said...

Thanks Kristi, glad you liked them!

Let's Talk Mommy said...

You couldn't have linked up a better post for me this week hun. I really have been shouty mommy lately with the tots just going a little stir carzy being indoors too much. I need to learn to be calmer. I am going to reread this right now. lol Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

Stephanie said...

I really needed this post this week. I truly do. I am so grateful that I found this post from your website @ http://affimity.com/#/sharedPost/2/9007. The best tip for us is "talk through your/their feelings." My son is nonverbal and often has fits - I feel horrible about them because they stem from his inability to tell me what is wrong. Thank you so much for this, it is tremendously helpful!

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