We all said it when we were pregnant. There was no way we would ever be mad at our kids, much less find ourselves yelling at them. Then it happens. You walk out of the bathroom to find that your living room wall is now a mural…in peanut butter. All of those mindful parenting tips you spent hours learning go out the window. Your face gets red, you can feel your temperature rising, and you find yourself reacting out of anger before you can do anything about it.
Kids test out boundaries when it comes to finding our zen. There’s no question about it. When we want to choose a peaceful response and control anger with our children it can be good to have a few simple mindfulness tips and techniques in our arsenal to fall back on in place of anger.
It doesn’t matter what style of parenting you choose. Even for those holding steadfast to mindful parenting, there will be times that your children test your boundaries. Just as they are learning and growing into individuals you too, mama, are learning and growing as a parent.
Sometimes things we planned out as we were carrying them in the womb work out. Other times our children end up being completely different little individuals than we ever would have imagined. Even the best-prepared mom can find themselves hit with a curveball every now and then too.
There are a number of mindful parenting tips and techniques that we can use to help keep ourselves calm while parenting. They can help us react to our children from a place of understanding and patience rather than one of reactive anger.
When we find ourselves in a stressful situation with our kids it is important to look at the issue to find the true problem that is happening. Sure, your kids are doing something that is bothering you. Are there other things in your life bothering you and making you more irritable though? Is there something bothering your child and making them act out more?
It is important to look at any underlying factors that may be contributing to the problem, or to a behavior suddenly being a problem. This is where mindful parenting comes in to play. We have to take a minute to assess so much more than just the situation at hand.
Once we identify any contributing factors we can stop and look more calmly at the situation. Sure, your kid may be aggravating you. However, it’s not their fault that you are more irritable because you have a deadline at work or an appointment coming up that you are worried about.
When we are in a conflict with anyone it is important to look at the issue from their perspective. This could be for our children, other adults, and even our spouses.
Is there something that the other person doesn’t understand about the situation? For children, is there a rule or boundary that they do not yet fully grasp? Perhaps there is an educational need to help your child better understand how to handle a particular situation.
Try to understand why the child did something the way they did. If they understand the rules, was there a reason why they were broken? Usually, there will be a reason behind a given behavior. Perhaps they were embarrassed that they had wet the bed and hid their sheets. Maybe they were angry with you because they couldn’t have a treat. It is important to think of what a situation could be telling you rather than quickly reacting out of anger.
This can be a tough one for anyone to master. It involves taking a five to ten-second pause to evaluate the situation before reacting. Now, there are instances where this just isn’t possible. If your child is in danger it is not the time to pause for even a second. However, in many situations, it won’t do any harm to take a moment to gather your thoughts before addressing things.
First, look at the situation. It is important to consider not only what is happening but why it is happening. Then take a second to check your feelings. Is there something else going on today to make you feel more on edge than usual? In our hectic lives, there is often a need to wear 5 hats rather than just the one of a parent. We are often moms, business owners, and much more.
Once you have addressed the situation and your own mood you can think of the best way to handle things. It is better to discuss why an action wasn’t the best choice because it gives an opportunity to discuss options for better choices in the future.
It is much harder to jump to anger when we give ourselves just a few short seconds to pause when coming on a situation we weren’t expecting. It gives us a chance to breathe and focus on the important things to give a response rather than a reaction.
Sometimes as parents we can’t help but react out of anger. Our anger response is much faster acting than our rational thinking response. Some have mastered switching the two successfully. Unfortunately, reacting can be the body’s natural go-to for stressful situations. This is particularly true if the individual is experiencing ongoing stress or going through a traumatic event.
As parents, we have to train ourselves to stop before we react. This helps us to work through a positive solution to the problem. It may temporarily relieve our distress to react out of anger but it does not create a lasting lesson for our children. Rather, it tells them “I shouldn’t do this because I’ll get yelled at”. They are missing the important aspect of “I shouldn’t do this because it is a bad decision”. We are doing them an injustice by teaching them to react to our anger with a negative emotion such as fear. Some may argue that it works well. However, this is not an effective way of parenting children. It does not impart a lesson that helps them to become well-adjusted and self-sufficient adults.
When we come upon an unpleasant situation with our children it is important to reinforce lessons already learned. We can also build on those lessons by teaching how acting properly makes us feel vs. acting badly. Children can be taught healthy options to take when faced with similar situations in the future. Not only does this method relieve stress but it can also help prevent further incidents.
If there are things you know are stressors for your children you can plan to avoid or alleviate these factors to make things easy on everyone. If your child gets grumpy at a certain time of day you can plan around their schedule. If they don’t enjoy large crowds you can have them stay home or get noise-blocking ear covers. Sometimes the sensory feel of clothing can be bothersome to a child or the food that they have eaten may be bothering them.
Once you know of situations or places that have a history of causing issues you are better able to prepare for them in the future. Some parents have the mentality that kids just need to “toughen up”. As a parent of a child with sensory issues, I’m well aware that this isn’t always possible. In addition, it is important to remember that children are still growing and developing. This includes their brains. They don’t quite have the mental abilities or fortitude yet that we do as adults.
A great way to help children who have difficulties in certain situations is to create a kit to help them calm down. This could include silly putty, a favorite toy or game, or a snack. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just enough to give them a break to calm down. Once they have calmed it is easier to discuss the problem and ideas and suggestions are often better received.
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