Not every parent is perfect and we often mess up. We say things we don’t mean. We yell at our kids because we are tired. We sometimes blame our children for things they never did. We may accuse our children of behaving badly when that was never their intention. We act in a way that we swore we would never act. We all have lost it with our kids and then we feel horrible afterwards. We vow to change but find ourselves at a loss on how to transform our behavior.
Here are 5 foolproof ways to help us stop losing it with our kids:
1. Learn New Ways To Talk To Your Children:
In a class I taught, I shared innovative and practical ways for parents to talk to their children. As kids many of us were yelled at, accused, blamed and subjected to sarcastic remarks. We promised ourselves we would do it differently. Yet parents find ourselves speaking to our children in the same way. The problem is that we don’t know any other way. We are stuck in a negative communication cycle. There are simple techniques and skills that we can use to change our communication patterns. If you feel like you are always losing it, take a parenting class so that you can improve your ability to communicate effectively with your child.
2. Get Rid Of Negative Self-Talk:
The way you talk to yourself drives your mood. Cognitive behavioral therapist have found that altering your self-talk from negative to positive transforms your frame of mind in a powerful way. In the past when counseling other mom’s, they would complain that their house was a mess, they often found themselves thinking, “I am inadequate, I don’t have it together, I am a failure as a woman. What would my grandmother say if she could see me now?” Pretty harsh, huh? That’s negative self-talk. It breeds frustration, anger and resentment. Using key phrases such as, “ The house is very messy, I like it being neat. When the kids get to bed I will take some time to clean this up. It will be clean before I know it.” Positive, neutral self-talk is calming and will motivate you to think of solutions.
Here are some more examples: (yes easier said than done!)
Instead of Negative Self Talk:
“My kids are not listening, I am a horrible mother!”
“I am good mother, most of the time. They will listen to me if I get down to their eye level and touch them gently to get their attention.”
Instead of Negative Self Talk:
“I can’t handle this, these kids are driving me crazy. I am going to go off the deep end.”
“I can handle this. I can stay calm. I can manage this. The kids are having melt downs; melt downs do not last forever. It will be over before I know it.”
3. Find Your Triggers:
We often lose it because we are tired and worn out. Sometimes we yell because we have too much on our plate. We could have a ton of stuff to do and our child will be dawdling while getting into the car. Everyone has their own personal triggers, mother-in-law coming for a visit, hosting a PTA meeting, siblings fighting, dress not fitting, or a burnt dinner etc.
By figuring out what sets you off you can start looking for creative ways to manage or avoid your triggers.
Messy kitchens are one of my biggest triggers. I can’t think straight when I see clutter. I make sure to keep my kitchen organized and uncluttered so that clean-up is easy and manageable. I spend 10-15 minutes in the morning and more in the evening straightening up just to help me keep my cool.
One friend who is a teacher confided “I spend time with all my students all day long and I think, what kind of parents do these kids have that they behave so badly? Then I would come home and see my kids doing the same things. I felt like a loser! That was my trigger, I would yell at my kids to stop acting like my students. I realized I had to stop judging everyone around me and accept my students and my kids, for who they are. I stopped getting so angry.”
4. Alert Your Children To Your Mood:
Let your kids know when your patience is tried and when you have a short fuse. You could say, “ Guys, my patience is really small right now, I need cooperation and all the help and energy you can muster to get this table set, homework cleaned up and dinner on the table.”
A mother of 6 shared with me how she would warn her children, “I am in the red zone” The kids knew that their Mom needed space and they had to hop to their chores without complaining. She related to me that, “Once I was able to give my children a way to read my moods, they became more respectful of my feelings. In turn, I became more aware of what they needed when they were in their own ‘red zones.’ When I gave myself permission to talk about my moods with my children we started working as a team. I wasn’t in the “red zone” as often as I used to be.”
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Say Your Sorry To Your Kids:
If we do lose it with our kids, don’t get bogged down by self-recriminations, try to make amends as soon as possible. Apologizing to our children, becomes a teachable moment, and allows us to turn bad situations into positive ones. When we say we are sorry to our children we are role modeling for them what to do when they mess up and hurt someone’s feelings. We are showing them that everyone is human, we all make mistakes and that a heartfelt “I’m sorry” is a great way to correct the parental blunders that we make. Children who have parents who are not scared to say they are sorry will be less fearful of making mistakes. They will have effective ways of managing their social gaffes, making them more confident and responsible in of life’s situations.
If you have a hard time saying your sorry to your kids, here are some examples of what you can say:
“I am sorry I yelled before, I was tired and seeing the mess set me off………”
“I am sorry I hurt your feelings, I overreacted before. When it gets really busy and noisy here, I sometimes say things that I shouldn’t.”
Everyone always asks me if I lose it or if I yell at my kid. Sure I do. I am a parent not an angel. Learning new ways to communicate with my children, getting rid of negative self talk, recognizing my triggers, and alerting my child to my moods, are all the skills that I use it to help me so that I lose it a lot less often then I used to.