Let me start by saying I am a very patient person. But keep reading anyway. Because anyone who has kids has been on the hairy edge and anyone who says they haven’t most likely has their fingers crossed behind their back to cover the lie.
This parenting gig is hard, people. It’s like being thrown into the cockpit of a Boeing 747 and told to go with your gut. If that puppy crashes and burns, people get hurt.
The good news is... your gut is better than you think.
I dispense some pretty awesome advice to my kids; in particular when they are facing a conflict with a sibling or friend. The tricky part is to remember all of that advice when you, the parent, are tackling the urge to freak the freak out on your child.
I mean, if we don’t show them how impactful these tactics can be, how will they ever see the wisdom in our words?
Here are the Top 5 coping mechanisms I teach my kids and use myself at home as well:
- Walk Away: Drop what you are doing—even if it is mid-yell—and get out of the room. A change in physiology will help diffuse the situation and let you find your rational adult side again. Take as long as you need it may be buried--deep..
- Laughter: Nothing breaks the tension like humor. I have broken out some amazing 80’s dance moves to deflect a tantrum—mostly mine. Remember they don’t have to laugh with you, Laughing at you is an effective tool as well.
- Speak quietly and state your case—My children’s ears perk up when I speak slowly and deliberately in a modulated voice. I am conveying that I am on the brink without yelling or histrionics. It is actually more alarming to them than an outburst.
- Take the High Road—Being the adult sucks. Acting like the adult when you want to stomp your feet and stop the madness double sucks. By pausing for even 30 seconds, taking a deep breath and releasing the need to win you will be staving off an ugly incident.
- Empathy-- Sometimes when tensions are at their peak, I just sit down and hug my kids. They have bad days, I have bad days and sometimes those days are on a collision course. A little contact always makes it better. I get as much out of that embrace as they do.
As with any negative behavior, stopping before you go into a tailspin is the hardest part. But by simply taking your own advice, you can build better relationships with your kids. And might not lose your mind doing it.