I’d barely slept the night before, because the baby was up and down, up and down, up and down. And I had a big work project on the horizon. And so when my toddlers started having an enormous fight over the single red spoon in our home, I started to lose it. Don’t ask why I only bought one red spoon (lesson learned), but let me tell you, when I saw one twin grab the other’s hair and yank, I really got pissed. Like a lot. I won’t go into detail about all the things I imagined doing, but I will say…. I had to yell for my husband to come, stat, and high-tail it out of the kitchen. Even the most equipped parents sometimes get upset with their children. It’s impossible not to, and if you’ve got a child who is genuinely challenging, this feeling may come up more often than you’d like. It’s important to think about contingency plans for when you just…. can’t.
You need to know what to when everything is falling apart – including you. Make a plan for those moments when it feels like your belly is on fire and you are just exhausted and your child is testing every limit you set.
So if you are agitated, if you cannot project calm, and if you are starting to make poor moves….here’s your plan: stop talking.
Yes, you heard us.
Slow your physical movements way down.
If it’s possible, remove yourself from the scene. Allow another person to take over – a partner, a grandparent, a teacher – anyone! Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. Take time for yourself when you need it.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to leave, is it? If there isn’t another adult on hand, you’ve still got to get through the situation, right? If you’re stuck in a challenging parenting situation, alone, and you’re frustrated…. first stop talking and slow your movements way down. Get through the situation with the absolute minimum amount of interaction with your child.
The goal is here to not make things worse. When we are angry, we say things we don’t mean. Our faces contort with emotion. We yell. This is why we want to stop talking, and why we must move slow.
Move slow? Yes. Move slow. Here’s the science behind it: slowing down your body evokes a different set of neurological patterns in your brain, which you interpret as “ahh…. calm…” It’s actually quite hard to remain upset if your body is relaxed and moving slowly. So pretend you’re moving through sand or water or tar. Do a yoga pose. Force your brain to calm down by controlling your body in ways that… force your brain and nervous system to calm down.
After it’s over- after you’ve either left and cooled down, or gotten through with the minimum interaction necessary, THEN connect with someone. Connect with us. We’ll help. Review our training, Consider what you can do differently next time. If you’re unable to figure out what to do differently, then ask for help- talk to a parent who’s been there, review our modules, discuss your challenges with others. Keep talking, until you have a plan for next time.