6 Ways to Become a Calmer Parent
When a child's behavior is driving you nuts, it's easy to lose your cool and lash out. But it's not productive. Mighty Mommy has 6 ways to put the calm back into your parenting style.
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Before I had kids, I use to be a bit too quick to judge those parents who I’d see losing their self-control out in public.
One example that comes to mind is the infamous check-out line scenario at the grocery store where mom or dad are hurriedly trying to unload the groceries and pay for them while little Jack is screaming because he wants a large candy bar. The parent says no, at least 3 times, but Jack is determined to get his way so he screams, whines, and throws a full-fledged tantrum so that on the fourth attempt, the harried parent gives in and the kid wins and gets his hands on that tasty candy bar.
In the process, not only is the kid having a breakdown, the parent is close to having one as well, which only exacerbates the situation making all involved completely miserable.
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It only took one time for that scenario to happen to me for me to vow that I'd never judge another parent again.
On the other hand, I also remember observing parents who were composed, cool, and collected during similar situations and I wondered what their secret was. I was determined to learn the trick to winning the battle against a hysterical toddler.
Thankfully, 8 kids later, I’ve learned a thing or two about self-control. So today, Mighty Mommy will share 6 ways to put the calm back into your parenting style.
Tip #1: Manage Your Own Behavior First
We do so many things automatically without even thinking about it - such as lash out at our kids when they behave badly in public.
This often happens because we want to get our kids under control first and foremost and forestall any further embarrassment. But in reality, the thing that would be most productive is to get our own frustrated feelings in check before responding to the child’s outburst.
When one of my kids is pushing my buttons or doing something that I find completely unacceptable, I count to 10 (sometimes a lot more!) and talk to myself in the process. “Stay calm and in control” I tell myself. By taking a few seconds to step away from my child’s poor behavior and get my own feelings in check, I can usually shift from being frustrated and ready to lash out to a reasonable state where I can handle my child’s situation without losing my composure. When you work to manage your own behavior first, you effectively neutralize the power struggle.
See also: 10 Ways to Handle Difficult Days
As an aded bonus, when you get yourself under control, your kids will also usually calm down. Remember, calm is contagious—and so is anxiety. When we as parents are nervous or anxious, it creates anxiety in our kids.
Tip #2: Blow Bubbles
People often laugh or roll their eyes when I tell them that one of my secrets to staying calm is blowing some good, old-fashioned bubbles!
I learned this trick from my own mother who raised 5 kids. When there is a tense parenting situation on the horizon, nothing can divert a cranky kid or diffuse a stressed out parent like simply blowing bubbles. Kids love them because they are such a delightful distraction and at the same time, the parent who is blowing them is able to release all that built up tension with the deep breathing technique involved in blowing bubbles.
I keep a jar of bubbles in my car. This method is even a great stress reliever for those nerve wracking moments that come with parenting tweens and teens.
Tip #3: Rely on a Favorite Mantra
Keep some slogans in your head to help you regain your composure.
Say something to yourself every time you feel your emotions rising. It can be anything from “Stop” or “Breathe” or “Slow down” to my favorite “This too shall pass.” Whatever words will help you, take that moment and go through a list of priorities. I even have a mental picture in my head handy, my happy place, to calm myself down: I think of a beautiful beach with a comfy chair, a cool drink, and my favorite book just waiting for me to come relax in.
Visualizing a happy outcome helps calm me down quickly.