As parents we all have and face moments of crisis with our kids. We often find ourselves multi-tasking such as getting dinner ready, helping the oldest with her homework and at the same time managing the youngest one who is crying because he wants to read a story “right now”. Let’s be honest, it’s sometimes difficult to keep our cool. In this article I collected the best advice I received and that I have applied and tested to avoid losing it in my career as a new mom.
1.Breathe and Whisper
The first thing to do to lower the building tension about to explode is to stop everything and breathe. Take 3 big breaths inhaling by the nose and breathing out by the mouth. This will allow you to calm down a little and to show your children that you are under control and managing the pressure you are feeling.
Then if my child is still agitated, tense and screaming I start to speak in a whisper to try to understand the situation. If I start yelling too, it only makes things worse. I speak softly ( not too soft) so my child has to calm down to be able to hear me.
I saw a teacher ( in my children’s Waldorf inspired school) use this technique in a class of 20 kids and it’s pure magic.
2. Sit on the floor
When my child is getting restless and agitated and I can’t stand it anymore and I feel I am about to lose it, I use a tip that was given to me by Terry the director of my kids’preschool. She told me: ”When you feel you most want to flee from your child it means you need to take him in your arms” So, I stop everything, I sit on the floor ( at his level) and I ask if he wants a hug. My experience is that after 5 minutes everything is back to normal. His affective reservoir has been filled and he can stop to try to get my attention and I can resume what I was doing.
3. Take a time-out or bathroom break ( even if you don’t need too)
Often times in moments of crisis we have a tendency to react right away under pressure often times we go on automatic pilot and explode. It was suggested to me to go on a “pipi break” or bathroom break ( or just get away in another room for few minutes) This is enough time to take stock and regroup and choose how to react and manage the situation. Often, when we want to scream it’s because we are face to face with our own fears of not being a good enough parent. We feel lost and start doubting about the way we are parenting our children and we end up reacting in a disproportionate manner. Leaving the room gives us a choice as to how we want to handle the situation and who we want to be. Obviously, make sure that your child or children are safe before leaving the room.
When I feel pressure mounting and the drop is about to overflow in the bucket I start to sing. I have tried it a few times! In general, the kids are taken by surprise and this allows me to ventilate without yelling ( When I scream I always end up regretting it)
5. Mirror back
When my child is having a tantrum because he wants that piece of candy ” right away” and he keeps repeating it over and over again hoping that I’ll give in , I often want to scream ”Stop, be quiet, you ‘re getting on my nerves!” ( or make threats but this is not how I choose to raise my children) I play the mirror game. I start to tap my foot on the floor mimicking a tantrum and I say :” You want a candy right away, You really want a candy, you want a candy and it bugs you that your mommy says no, you don’t care that it’s almost dinner time , you want a candy right away, candies are so good and you want one! “
I’ve noticed that the simple fact of being heard satisfies a big part of his wanting a candy and so the child let’s go. Sometimes we even go as far as eating some imaginary candies. We invent the yummiest candies in the world.
6. If the child could, he would
When I feel like screaming at my child because he doesn’t do as I ask such as clean up his room or practice his piano. I take a stand back and I reevaluate my trust in him. I tell myself ” If he could, he would” In general my child wants to make me happy and do the right thing so what is preventing him from doing what I ask? Sometimes he may feel overwhelmed himself with the mess and needs a little hand, (he can pick up what’s on the ground and I can help him with his desk.) Or other times, he doesn’t react because he hasn’t understood something clearly ( he may get blocked by one of his piano partition and feels discouraged) or he may feel he already has too much to handle and cannot do it all. I can help him get organized so he can handle it.
When my child is able in general he does what I ask.
7. Testing the limits (the gate)
When my child goes over the limits in his behavior such as having a tantrum at the supermarket cash register because he wants to buy gum, or has defiant remarks, I remember what my own mother once told me. ”Children need to feel safe and to know that we are able to provide a sturdy and safe environment to protect them from the world that they do not yet master. It’s a little like a balcony gate that protects and prevents us from falling.” Regularly my child will test the limits and boundaries to make sure that the gate is solid. If I scream and get agitated I create the opposite effect and instill anxiety and fear in him . So I firmly put my limits and I don’t give in. He needs it to feel reassured.
I hope all of these 7 tips will help you. I am sure that you also have some great ones that you have successfully tested. Please, please share them on this blog !
Love & Respect