14 June, 2023
As anxiety and sadness are contagious—the same way is calmness. If we stick to calmness, we will help to model for our kids a lifetime dexterity that will assist them to establish their own connections and do well in their relationships. Reward: When you acknowledge that you are not accountable for the ultimate choices that your child makes, you will feel calmer—and when you feel calmer, you will be able to think of a better plan of action to help your child make better choices. So, we should stop yelling and act calmer while guiding our children toward more desirable behaviours.
Think differently. If we think that we are responsible for every decision and choice our child makes, we will feel inadequate and anxious, which will cause us to be reactive. But if we recognize that we can’t possibly be responsible for all the choices they make, we will calm down and feel less anxious. Instead, stay in charge of what we are responsible for—how we behave when our child is behaving poorly. That’s in our hands. For example, your child decides to sneak a cookie before dinner, even though he’s not allowed. Remember that you’re not responsible for the choice he’s made, but you are accountable for your responses, so act calmly and maturely. This way you can teach him about rules and expectations you want him to follow and stick to in a more calmer environment.
Learn about your triggers. We should learn about our own triggers and plan and prepare for it. If you get triggered when your child is rude to you, prepare and plan what you will do other than yelling. You have choices. Plan ahead what you will do when triggered so you won’t be caught off guard. In that split second between the triggered event and your reaction to it, you have control. Plan your own timeout. Take a walk, call a friend, listen to music, put on headphones, sing, think, and breathe. Do anything but not yell. Take care of other difficulties in your life so the stress of those situations doesn’t spill onto your child.
Make a commitment. We should commit ourselves to taking care of our own emotional reactions and triggers rather than putting that energy into trying to control and harass our kids. Accept that by “losing it,” we are asking our children to take care of us instead of us being the grownup who no longer has temper tantrums when others don’t behave the way we want. By taking charge of our triggers and reactions, we will be in a better position to have our children learn how to behave. We should understand that our children have the right to choose how to behave even if it is a bad choice- we don’t have control over their preferences and choices. Rather than being mad at them, we should decide how we can effectively guide them to better ways of thinking by providing effective consequences. For example, if your child keeps forgetting to say “thank you” for Grandma’s gift, rather than being mad and yelling, decide how he can learn. Here’s the truth: he will learn better without all of your emotionality. One possible consequence is that you don’t allow him to have the gift until he sends, says or writes a “thank you” to Grandma.
Recognize stress in your life. Yelling can be indicative of how stressed we are. Take a self-inventory. Are we overly focused on our child’s behaviour because we are under-focused on our own life? Do we need to pay more attention to our adult relationships or our personal goals? Maybe we need to take a stand against our husband and his drinking. Or perhaps we have been over-functioning for our irresponsible brother for far too long. Are these stressors causing us to spill some of this anxiety onto our kids? We might also be losing it frequently because our family is over-stressed. Is your lifestyle too frenetic with all the schedules, demands and activities? We want our kids active, but if we spend so much time running around, we won’t have time for relationships. Take the time to think through what is really best for the family. If you can cut back on things or replace parts of your over-booked schedule with something in everyone’s best interest (like free time, dinner together several times a week minimum, etc.), there might be less stress in the home.
Know your boundaries: Remaining calm with your child requires you to stay as emotionally separate from her as you can. Being emotionally separate doesn’t mean you are emotionally disconnected. It just mean that you know that you two are different individuals. Know where you end and she begins. When you can be separate, you will be in a better position to see her for who she is—and you’ll know what you actually need to give her in order for her to behave well. By doing this, you will be better able to guide her. Remember, closeness comes from separateness—yelling really is the result of being too enmeshed. For example, if you worry that your teen isn’t keeping up in class, instead of letting her face the natural consequences or setting stricter guidelines around schoolwork time, you step in and start completing her homework for her. This blurs the boundaries and doesn’t give her the chance to learn how to make good choices on her own.
Being a calm parent is important to our own health, and the health of our family, as well as to all the good relationships. By not yelling and by staying calm and level-headed, you will be more credible and respected by your child, and therefore more deeply connected. These are the big gains that will help you stay on track while you’re doing the hard work of parenting during your kids’ younger years—and later, when they’re grown, you’ll have a firm foundation and framework upon which to build your adult relationship.
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