I am far from a perfect parent. One friend thinks I’m too lenient with my kids. Another thinks I am too attached. I secretly worry that I’m messing them up forever. It’s always something, isn’t it? We’re beautiful, messy people and beautiful, messy parents. Part of the beauty of being an adult is that we have the benefit of maturity. We know the little things are little things. We can see past our feelings to the bigger picture. Right? It’s not always that easy, is it? Sometimes, our kids go crazy, and we want to scream and stomp our feet right along with them. Sometimes we do. I don’t know anyone who wants to be the mom who yells. She might exist, but I doubt it. We all want to hold it together, have patience, be strong, and levy discipline without anger. Here are a few tips to help you the next time you are called to do just that.
9 Ways to Keep Your Cool when Your Kids Lose Theirs
1. Remember grace. I try to treat my kids the same way my Heavenly Father treats me. I extend them grace when they screw up. It doesn’t always wash away the consequences of their behavior, but I remember that they deserve to receive grace in the same way that I do.
2. You need grace too. While you’re learning to extend grace to your children, make sure you pour it on yourself. Everyone loses her temper now and then. Everyone. Apologize, explain, and move on.
3. Do not engage the beast. Unless your child is in danger, do not get caught up in his or her fit. Walk away if you can. A child in the midst of an emotional outburst is not reasonable, so trying to have a conversation is never going to work.
4. Watch out for your signals. Everyone experiences some anger signals. Maybe your face flushes or your ears get hot. Maybe you start to sweat or clench your jaw. Learn to recognize the signs that you’re getting angry so that you can do something about it before it gets out of control.
5. Get away. If it’s practical, get away for two minutes. Do what you need to do—throw a fit, stomp your feet, cry, yell, or whatever—and then get yourself back together and get back to the business of whatever you were doing. (Obviously, don’t leave your kids alone somewhere or in a dangerous situation.)
6. Interrupt unhealthy thoughts. When you start thinking about what should happen or how things ought to be, stop and think. Your kids are who they are. All kids’ brains are wired to act on emotion. They aren’t rational creatures all the time. Let go of who and what you think your kids should be and do and accept who they are.
7. Remember that this is temporary. This situation is not going to last forever.
8. Deal with the present. Don’t ever make sweeping statements like “You’re such a bad kid!” or “You always misbehave!” The truth is that no one always or never does anything, and your kids are probably really good, nice people. Be specific and address the behaviors once the fit is finished. Say something like, “It is not okay to hit your sister. That was not nice. How are you going to make it up to her?” rather than “You’re always so mean!” See the difference?
9. Take care of yourself. Having good emotional health, to begin with is the key to remaining calm in the midst of a fit. Find what nourishes your soul and do it as often as is reasonable. Make sure you get enough sleep consistently. Be kind and remember to extend grace.
When the dust has settled and apologies made, a book like I Love You No Matter What helps your kids to see that they can’t escape from your love—no matter how big their tantrum.
How do you stay calm in the midst of a tantrum?
Tara Ziegmont: Tara Ziegmont is a homeschooler, former high school astronomy teacher, Certified Writing Specialist, blog coach, and SEO Specialist. She has blogged at Feels Like Home since 2007, where she helps women to live more fully in every moment (even the ones that suck). Tara celebrates her two crazy daughters (ages 6 and 2 1/2) and lives an old-school back-to-basics frugal lifestyle near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Connect: Website Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest