I understand that staying calm when dealing with kids is much, much easier said than done—especially when you have a child who’s being difficult. Knowing you should be calm doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to do it. But why doesn’t it? We know the right thing to do, but in the midst of the battle our emotional brain gets stirred up and we lose sight of our logical brain. When our brain becomes overloaded with emotion-yelling, screaming and shutting down, “re-activity” begin.
When our feelings control us, rather than us being able to control them, we have a much harder time helping our kids mature and deal with their life. Here are some ways to be a calm parent when dealing with a difficult child.
- Change your perspective: If you can think differently, you will be less angry at your child. Our kids can make us annoyed, mad, frustrated—sometimes on a daily basis. Your job is to guide him by making sure he takes responsibility and makes amends.
- Identify your feelings: When you are about to let off steam, pause and identify your feelings. Name it; identify it as your own. If we acknowledge and accept our own feelings, we can start doing the work of soothing them, understanding them, changing them, processing them and releasing them. It’s our responsibility to work out our own feelings rather than to blame them on our kids.
- Pause, breathe, think: Model for your child how to deal with difficult feelings. By pausing, breathing and thinking, not only are you calming yourself down, but you teach your kids how to do the same. Without them, you won’t be able to solve the problems you are confronted with effectively because you won’t have access to the part of the brain that can make good decisions.
- Let go of worry and focus on what’s good: Understand that worrying about your child is a negative act. Worrying also makes your child anxious because he comes to believe that there is something within him to be worried about. He becomes more nervous. Positive thinking can inadvertently cause a positive outcome. And finally, feeling anger (or any re-activity) is detrimental to warm, close interactions. Repeated negative interactions over time can destroy good relationships.
Calm is contagious in a family. If you learn how to be calm, you will create a calm family and also show your children how to calm down in any given situation—an important life skill for everyone to master.