Raising four sons, I have experienced epic tantrum meltdowns, bad attitudes on the way to school, anger outburst before church, and tirades about the food they don’t eat.
Sometimes the out of control outburst of my fellas only led to my own.
I’ve reacted when they were little. I was a sleep-deprived momma with three little ones under five struggling with boys who didn’t want to be potty trained, who screamed because they didn’t want to get out the car, or who wouldn’t go to bed because daddy wasn’t home to read a bedtime story.
I’ve reacted when they bigger. I was the momma with fellas who waited until the last minute to do a project, left dirty clothes on the floor right in front of their hamper, or had the nerve to complain about cleaning a mess they made.
If we don’t have strategies in place to help us keep our cool when our kids lose theirs, we end up modeling the very behavior we don’t want our children to do. You know, those moments we yell, fuss, nag, and are just not nice.
Don’t worry. We can turn those heated moments with our kids around. Here are three strategies to help you keep your cool when your kids are losing theirs.
Don’t take it personally
When our children are losing their cool, we must remember not to take it personally. Sometimes our children can hurl insults, throw our mistakes in our faces, be mean, and even try to humiliate others. Sometimes our children are not intentionally giving us a hard time; they are going through a hard time. They are tired, hungry, frustrated, anxious, or just a teenager struggling with walking through hormones.
Choosing to take the actions of our children personally removes the responsibility our children must face for their actions. Reacting to their anger, hurt words, or insults only adds fuel to the fire. Do not engage. Instead, calmly identify how to separate the behavior from the child.
Losing our cool with our children only creates separation, damages the relationship, and can make your child feel shame. Not taking their actions personally helps us to show restraint.
- When my child acts out, how can I show restraint?
- What are the ways I can redirect my child’s behavior without owning their negative actions?
Know your triggersAs parents, we are mature enough to remember we are the adults. We are capable of exercising self-control in challenging moments. I realized if I want to raise children who can responsibly manage their emotions, then I must both model respectful behavior while also teaching them self-control in a way which honors God.
To model and teach my children, I must know and understand my triggers. On days I lack sleep, haven’t been able to eat properly, or even near my menstrual cycle, I am more likely to react instead of respond. My behavior is not the responsibility of my children; it is mine.
Knowing my triggers helps me pause before I speak and act. Learning your triggers helps you to step out of your emotions.
- What are your triggers?
- When are you more likely to lose your control with your children?
- How can you exercise self-control in the moment?
Identify the why
When our children are losing their cool, stop to identify the why behind their negative behavior.
Is your child upset because daddy is at work? Is your child having a tantrum because she is sleepy? Maybe your child needs a snack?
Understanding the root of our children’s behavior helps us to know the best way to respond (not react) to their actions. Usually, when children act out in negative ways, they are communicating an unmet need. If you can maintain your calm, find ways to meet the need.
This starts by putting yourself in the shoes of your children. Think back to what it was like being new to a school or dealing with those dreaded pre-teen hormones. Remember what it was like being told what to do, where to be, and how to act. Everything can feel out of control for your kid. Identifying why helps us to remain calm, show compassion, and extend a helping hand.
- How can I respond in love to my child’s worst moments?
- What is the root cause of my child’s behavior?
Now, keeping your cool doesn’t just happen. We must practice regularly. Over time you find it easier not to take things personally, know your triggers, and identify the why when your children act out. To be a more peaceful momma who can model self-control, you must be committed to doing the work. When our children do the most unlovable behaviors, they need us to love them the most.
Also, don’t be afraid to apologize. As you are learning to keep your cool, be sure to apologize when you are in the wrong. Apologizing to your children is another example of how we can reconcile when we make mistakes. You can turn it all into growing points for everyone.
You got this momma,