While it’s normal to lose your patience with your children from time to time, if you find yourself easily getting into a bad temper or regularly struggling to remain calm, then there’s a problem.
Parents typically find themselves screaming at their kids because they think they’re responsible for getting their kids to behave, instead of helping them to manage themselves.
To avoid being racked with guilt for being stuck on scream mode we’ve complied some tips on how to be a stress-free parent.
No matter how much you’d like to get out the door or put the kids to bed ‘on time’, if you have to scream to make it happen, you’re doing yourself a disservice. If you want your kids to behave, you have to manage your own behaviour. Place all your attention on staying calm — instead of on getting your kids to do what you want. Freaking out only creates the very outcomes you were trying to avoid.
Stop Saying ‘Okay?’
Rather than trying to get your kids to approve every decision – ‘We’re going in 5 minutes, okay?’ – simply state the facts. If the kids protest, stand firm: ‘I know you’re upset but we’ve had fun, it’s time to go.’ You may think you’re making your life easier by clearing things with them, but you’re only making things worse. Kids look to you for leadership. If you’re constantly asking for their approval, you make yourself look weak, which makes them scared.
Focus on Yourself
Organizing your whole life around your kids is a recipe for disaster – one that only leads to you resenting them and having little patience. Schedule your workout or date with a friend (or both) first, then decide what outings you’ll do with the kids that week.
Don’t Neglect Your Relationships
It’s vital that you don’t look to your kids to complete you. Tend to your adult relationships, particularly your marriage, so you can approach your kids from a position of fullness, instead of needing them to fill you up. Go on date night or out with friends and don’t talk about kids. Talk about your dreams, your life, what you want to accomplish, so kids don’t become your primary mission in life.
Take a Child Break
You have to take quality time – taking intentional retreats from the kids gives you a chance to regroup and come back stronger. If your kids are old enough, arrange for them to have a sleepover. If they’re very young, hire a babysitter so you can have two hours to yourself. You can take the kids with you and hate them for 2 hours, or have that time to yourself and be happy to see them at the end.
Of course, meltdowns (yours and theirs) will still happen. When you need to calm down in the moment, try breathing – it’s impossible to yell at your kids if you’re inhaling. Breathe in to a count of 10 before you even open your mouth. And when you do start speaking to your kids, use a quiet voice – the softer you speak the more your kids pay attention.
Admit Your Mistakes
Should you still go overboard in your reaction, an apology can go a long way toward getting you all back on track again. Saying ‘I’m sorry’ when you overreact teaches my kids that apologizing when you’re wrong is the right thing to do, and it makes everyone feel a whole lot better.