As a Psychotherapist and Parenting Expert, I meet many parents who are finding it hard to keep their cool.
The one question I get asked more than any is how to not get into arguments, shout and/or feel guilty. If this sounds familiar you are not alone! Read on to find out my top 10 ways to keep your cool and stay unflustered.
- Develop your internal compass and measure of what’s going on
There are so many grey areas in parenting and there can never be one solution that will work every time. Developing your own internal compass of what works for you and your family values is essential so you can gauge if something is working. This is a great way to not loose your cool as your internal guide will tell you if it’s time to re-frame what’s going on.
2. All behaviour is communication & let kids get it out
All behaviour is communication so take time to figure out how it is that you’d like to respond to your child when they are letting you know they’re not ok. Children’s brains don’t have the ability to always verbalise in a clear and succinct way what’s going on for them so they will communicate in every way they have available to them.
It’s so important that kids develop the appropriate emotional response to situations. They need to get it out. If they become versed at keeping things in emotions will come out in more damaging ways to themselves when they are older.
3. Be a detective – for yourself and your child
Is your child hungry, tired or overwhelmed? Of are you hungry, tired or overwhelmed? Are there particular situations your child or you find difficult? We don’t want children to never be in situations that they struggle with as we want everyone to develop a range of emotional responses and experiences. However, if there is a time/situation/place that you or your child finds hard can you put something in place to make it easier for everyone?
4. Have realistic expectations and help more
Children have developing brains and because of this their ability to understand, regulate and manage their emotions is developing too. Mostly children need parents to reduce their expectations of what they should be able to manage. Children cannot organise their minds or the practical parts of their lives.
Many parents I meet are fearful that if they help their children more then the child won’t develop the skills to do things themselves. This isn’t true – parents must trust that their children will naturally want to do things; all people develop the skills to dress themselves, take care of their physical hygiene needs and learn how to develop the skills of planning for their lives.
5. Develop your how
Most parents I meet have read widely about parenting and pretty much all parents I’ve met know what they ‘should’ be doing. So now is the time to learn how to put this into practice and I call this developing your how. How do you implement what you’ve read and listened to? Taking that leap from reading to implementing can be tricky but is not impossible. It takes practice, returning to the parenting intention and commitment to finding your parenting best. Have a read here for a bit more about this
6. Figure out how it is that you’re going to display feelings of being annoyed, angry and frustrated.
At appropriate times children need to see that parents get angry – yes, that’s right! You are allowed to find things annoying and frustrating, but use your internal compass to help you either be frustrated/angry or channel it into a helpful conversation/action to change something.
7. Don’t apologies for the emotion
I meet many parents who apologise and repair with their children for when they were angry. What we want is to not apologise for the emotion – as aren’t all emotions valid? – but for how you dealt with it if it wasn’t helpful in that situation.
See, we are back to the how part of parenting again. It’s so important that you work out how you’d like to be in these situations.
8. Don’t be angry at the child
It really solves nothing. Be angry/frustrated at the situation as then this will not blame and shame the child for something happening. You are the adult and it’s your responsibility to manage the situation, even if this means walking away, and guiding it towards being resolved.
9. Know when to drop it
Parents often think that because they’ve said something (like an ultimatum) then they have to stick to it. Remember that when anyone is angry they are never coming up with the best solutions, so if you have to stop for a moment and a take a step back and say “oh, hang on, that’s not going to work” or “hang on, I need a moment to think about this” that’s ok.
You’re not supposed to have the answers right now and solve everything. And this is a great thing to mirror to kids – you don’t have to be perfect.
Many parents are fearful that if they do this they will loose their authority, but the reality is that taking the sting out of the anger for everyone is only every helpful.
10. Get help and don’t only rely on reading books or podcasts
The best way to solve what is hard in your parenting is to get the professional help you need so that you get the right information and clarity on what to do.
I meet so many parents who have read widely about parenting but find it hard to apply. There is so much information out there what every parent needs is to find someone who can help them understand what is relevant to them and how to become that parent. It can be helpful to read about parenting but it can be quite passive until you’ve worked through your triggers and really explored how you tick and what you personally find difficult.
Each parent must seek the right support to gain clarity to find their flow in parenting. The ways to connect with me (and my 15 years experience supporting people to find their best) is here (my private membership is the most cost effective way of working with me, so check that out here)
So now you’ve read my top 10 tips, I’d like you to really take in the next, and most important part.
Parenting isn’t really about children. It’s about what the parents response is to the children’s emotional and physical development.
Feeling unsettled/needing to control/shouting in parenting is a complex mixture of dynamics for you. Your response to your child is often how you were parented (your parenting default) and has been passed to you through your DNA and your emotional memory. We can’t remember all of our emotions, or how we developed them, but the emotional part of our brain remembers it and can act from this place. These are your neurological structures of who you are. And changing this can feel like swimming against the tide at times.
But change is not impossible. What every person needs is the right person and place to guide them through the change.
Go easy on yourself and remember to mind yourself in all ways possible – eat well, rest well, be connected with people who make you laugh.
Feel attached to you. Then you can connect and attach to your children.
If you’d like to find your parenting best and understand more about how you can offer your best to yourself and your children, the best place to do that with me is through my Calm & Collective Membership. Your online parenting village with workshops, private Facebook group with me and the resources and knowledge to help you get to where you’d like to be.
Bethan is a Parenting Expert & Psychotherapist whose passion is supporting parents so that their lives are easier. Her work has been written about in various local and national media – for more information about Bethan have a look here.