It is normal for the unique behaviors of our kiddos to get under our skin. You’re exhausted and frustrated. You’ve been doing everything you can to love your child and he seems to be doing everything he can to sabotage the relationship.
It is understandable that you may lose your cool at times and say or do something you regret. Providing our kiddos with the parenting they need takes a ton of work and unlearning! Staying calm in the midst of chaos is a muscle that needs to develop. Here are ways you can be better equipped to handle those tough moments.
Know the triggers. Start keeping track of the most difficult times for your child. Is there a pattern? Maybe he has a rough time transitioning from school to home or perhaps you always find yourself arguing about one topic in particular. Once you know what triggers your child, you can know how to prevent crises. Also, know YOUR triggers. What behaviors get under your skin the most? When do you have the most difficulty keeping your cool? Once you know this you’ll be able to be more prepared and conscious during those scenarios.
Meditate daily. You’ll be surprised at the positive impact that daily meditation can have. It will allow you to keep calm under pressure and keep any negative thoughts under control. Before you get out of bed in the morning sit quietly and with your eyes closed. Focus on a positive word (examples are the words love, peace or happiness). Breathe in that word for five seconds then breathe out that word for five seconds. When any other thoughts pop up, acknowledge them and then release them, returning to your word. Repeat this for 5 minutes (you may want to set a timer). It is also productive to also do this before bed. I highly recommend Gabrielle Bernstein for meditation resources.
Carve out me-time and/or things that make you happy throughout the day. Let me ask you a question – what do you do weekly for you? If you can’t recall anything then we’ve got a problem here. I understand how chaotic life can be which is why we recommend integrating small, positive things in your routine. Maybe it’s a frappaccino, maybe it’s a walk at the end of the day with a friend, maybe it’s playing Candy Crush or getting a manicure. How are you structuring your time while the kids are at school or in bed? Are you using that time to relax and/or do something that makes you happy?
Take a minute. It may take a lot of willpower but you can do it (also, with the help of these other tips)! When you feel your blood boiling and yourself escalating – take a minute to breathe. You may walk away for a little, you may count to ten in your head, or you may bring your attention to your body and start to breathe. Instead of responding with a knee-jerk reaction it’s important to train yourself to pause. Collect yourself so that you’re able to respond in a productive way.
Utilize your team. Your team is anyone who supports you and your child in some way. People on your team can even be friends or family who you turn to. Some members of your team are by choice and others are not (i.e. school staff). How does your team support you? Who do you vent to? Do you have a counselor or therapist? If not, it may be productive to get one. Is the school helping you? Is it time for a team meeting? Are you accessing resources outside of school? Do members on your team “get it?” These are all questions you need to ask yourself first. Next, write down each person’s role and what you turn to them for. What do you notice? Are there any gaps? Is there anyone you’re underutilizing?
Remember the iceberg. Recall that your child is not having this behavior with the intention of driving you crazy. Behavior is an iceberg. Know that there is something going on beneath the surface and approach your child based on this, rather than on the tip of the iceberg. It’s important to realize that your child believes you’ll become like the neglectful, mistrustful, and/or harmful adult figure in his past. It’s your job to prove to him you’re unlike them.
What’s your biggest challenge in responding to your kiddos? How will you apply the above? Let us know in the comments!