If you’re a parent, you know you have one of the most demanding jobs there is. Always on call. A chef, a chauffer, a doctor, story teller, expert listener … etc. We look forward to their first words and brace against those toddler tantrums. Sometimes we need help. I remember the days of needing to talk to an adult, any adult, just to maintain my sanity. Here is a list of things you can do to keep your cool in the midst of chaos.
Be patient. Not only is patience a virtue, it is also the key to good parenting. Your little ones are exploring the world around them and learning how to find their voice. If they can’t have something or do something, they don’t know why. They don’t know how to express themselves, they don’t have the words and most likely, they are frustrated too.
Tone of voice is important. Try not to yell and scream, although it happens to the best of us… one way to deal with a situation is to whisper. When you whisper your child has to be quiet and lean in close to hear you. Not to mention it’s also reassuring and non threatening.
Routine is a great way to help keep kids calm. I think everyone does a little better when they know what’s coming next. Bedtime is a good way to instill a routine. Give them a bath (or let them take their own), Do some relaxing lotion, usually anything with lavender in it is good for a calming effect. Climb into bed and under the covers, snuggle in a read a book or two.
Self Time Outs. I think I’ve mentioned that I am a big fan of self time outs. It’s just like it sounds. I got sick and tired of chasing my daughter around the house and putting her back into the “timeout” chair, only to have her get up and do it again. So, I decided to remove myself from the situation. Take away the stimulus. I went to my bedroom and locked the door. She kicked and screamed at first, not getting any response from me and soon calmed down and was able to listen to me. Now you can’t do this with every age, you need to make sure they will be safe and not get into anything that they can hurt themselves with. With the appropriate age (or development stage) this can work wonders.
Try to Avoid Power Struggles. Say “yes” whenever possible. Last week my daughter and I had a doctor appointment at 3:00 pm. It was 11:00 am when I asked her to get dressed. She refused and we ended up getting into an argument. One that left me in tears of frustration. I put myself on my timeout, and thought. Is it really so important she get dressed right now? Certainly before 3:00, but that is 4 hours away. She can stay in her pj’s a little longer. Wouldn’t you know, as soon as I told her that, she got dressed. It wasn’t a game or a challenge anymore.
Don’t Forget About Playtime! In a world full of schedules and routines to follow, as helpful as they are, kids are kids. They need time to play. Run off steam. Take a break from it all. Play is good for big people too!
Try Something Else. If none of these work, if you’ve talked to others, tried other suggestions, and are still at the end of your rope, there are people and places willing to help. After my daughter was born I had some pretty bad post partum depression. I needed respite care. Where the county paid for someone to watch my daughter while I took a break. It was for a few hours, a couple of times a week. It was what I needed to get through a difficult time. In addition to respite care you may want to look into getting professional help. There are play therapist that know how to work with children and get them to open up about what may be bothering them and offer solutions to some of what may be going on at home.
The main thing to keep in mind is that a child is a child and not a behavior. You can not like the behavior and still love the child.
I hope this helps and the best of luck to those of you who are dealing with some difficult childhood situations.