- See it from your child’s point of view. OK, so he was being impossible. I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly acted impossible when I’m scared, hurt, or just plain overwhelmed. We’re all sure we’re “right” when we’re angry, but there’s always another way to look at things. Nobody has to be wrong. If you can acknowledge your child’s feelings, it opens the door to reconnecting. “Oh, sweetie, we are both so upset. I guess you were hoping that…” You can still set a limit and guide your child, while offering your understanding.
- Avoid a repeat. Later, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I can do so I don’t lose it next time?”
- Can you reduce the amount of stress in your life by paring back so you aren’t always rushing?
- Do you need more sleep?
- Is there a certain time of day when everything falls apart? How can you give yourself and your child more support at that time of day?
- If you notice you sound like your parents when you start yelling, can you do some healing? If you need to, get some support — take a parenting class, get a good parenting book, join a forum, see a counselor.
- Are you doing preventive maintenance with your child, so that he or she is less provocative? You’ll find these strategies also help you feel closer to your child, so you’re more able to see things from her perspective.
- When you start to threaten your child with punishments, can you notice that it’s coming from your own sense of helplessness? Instead, use that as a reminder to take a deep breath and calm yourself down. You’ll intervene so much better from a calm state.
- If you want to stop yelling, but you’re finding it tough, give yourself a break — it IS tough! But it’s also possible, so give yourself better support, in the form of a star chart. Your kids give you stars for every morning or afternoon you don’t yell. Every week that’s better than the week before is worth celebrating.
Did you find one thing you can do to support yourself so you can regulate better when you start to get upset? Commit to doing that one thing.
- Commit to NOT TAKING ACTION next time you get angry. Just stop, drop, and breathe. Walk away if you need to. I know you want to set your child straight right this minute, but you’ll do a better job once you calm down. She’s not going anywhere. You know where she lives.
- Always apologize after you lose it. No child (or adult) ever deserves to get yelled at. Remember you’re role-modeling, both when you yell and when you apologize. Just say “I had such a hard day, and I couldn’t deal with one more thing going wrong. So I yelled at you. But that’s no excuse. No one deserves to be yelled at, ever. Let’s try a do-over.” Just resist the natural impulse to blame it on your child by saying if they would just act right, you wouldn’t yell. It’s always your responsibility if you yell.
And, of course, forgive yourself. This parenting thing is hard, and no one is perfect. But every time you do this, you’re rewiring your brain, so it gets easier to regulate yourself the next time. You’ll find you’re living with a lot less drama, and a lot more love.
Now, go hug your child.
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