When our oldest son was old enough to start doing things to make a Mama lose her temper, I was tested. A lost shoe when you are ready to walk out of the door. Spilled milk when you asked him twice to push his cup further back on the table. You know… those little things that, in the heat of the moment, result in a lost temper… from me, his mom, who should have it all together.
I never wanted to be a parent that lost her temper. One day our son hesitated when he was going to ask me a question. I asked him why he didn’t ask and his response was, “I didn’t ask you because I didn’t want you to get mad.”
That day would change how I parent forever. I want to share what I’ve learned with you, because we need our hearts and our homes to be our children’s safe place.
Here are a few things to do when you feel like you are going to lose your temper… and while the “just breathe” method works, I wanted to introduce you to some other ideas that you can try today to stop losing your temper with your kids… right now:
- Parent like someone is watching you. Really. You will see how much differently you act. You will follow all of those “parent rules” like consistency, calmness & being firm, but fair… all the ones that you know you should be following.
- Pretend that it isn’t your child. If you were their teacher, not their parent, how would you react. I taught for many years and never once yelled at a child.
- Be the teacher, not just the rule enforcer. Show them what you expect and explain why.
- Recognize when you are going to lose your temper and stop it. Are the kids getting louder? Are the toys getting messier? Is dinner running behind? Recognize it and fix it before it escalates to losing your temper. It is usually a lot of little things that equals one big explosion.
- Speak quietly instead of yelling. The calmer and softer you speak, the more impact your words will have.
- Give yourself a time out. Walk into another room for a few minutes. Let yourself cool down and then walk back and address the problem.
- Get enough rest. Our kids get cranky when they are tired… why would it be any different for the adults?
- Think long-term. If you do this “______” now (Yell, talk rudely, etc…) how will it be remembered by them tomorrow, in a week, in a month? Don’t break their spirit because you lost your temper.
- Exercise. You have to get your stress and frustrations out and working them out is the perfect way to do it. Plus, you are setting a great example for your kids.
- Be consistent. This is huge for your kids. They need you to be consistent so they can know what to expect. It is the hardest part of parenting, in my opinion, because there are so many different instances that can allow for inconsistency.
- Start with a positive. “You are normally just so sweet, but it hurt my heart that you just raised your voice to me” or “I love you, but I don’t like that behavior.”
- Try squeezing a stress ball when you get upset. They really work and many therapist and councilors suggest them.
- Try using a “talking stick” when you get mad. When the child is talking, they are holding the stick and have your full attention for a minute, then switch. Let your child explain what has happened & then give yourself a chance to explain why you are upset up it.
- Don’t get into a back and forth argument. It only escalates the problem and won’t result in a good outcome.
- Be kind. Above all, remember to be kind. Remember: firm, but fair. No, your kids won’t remember that day that you were late. They won’t remember that they couldn’t find their shoes or that they couldn’t find their homework, but they will remember how you reacted, because they will learn to react the same way. They will mimic you, try to be like you and learn from you. Remember that right now, at this moment, your kids are being just like you. Be the example that would make anyone proud. Be the parent that you want your children to be in thirty years. You are a wonderful parent… (if you weren’t you certainly wouldn’t be reading this), so let your kids see that side of you.