Steps to forgive yourself if you have lost your cool with your child

You didn’t get enough sleep last night and you’re already running late. That irritable, impatient parent lashes out – reacting to your child’s misbehavior. How do you forgive yourself if you lost your calm and cool?

Calm is what we are striving for, in Calmer, Happier, Easier Parenting techniques. But, when you are angry and hot – you cannot get back to that calm state, easily. You feel angry, justified in your anger, and terribly impatient. In that anger it is difficult to notice that it is YOU that is out of control, as much as your child. How do you get to the place where you can recognize your overreaction to make amends?

How to forgive yourself after you have lost your cool with the kids

  • Recognize that you are tired and that you can be a much better parent with enough sleep and enough time.
  • Forgive yourself.
  • Look at and feel your feelings – recognizing your own feelings helps you move past them.
  • Find your sensory tool (the thing that “snaps” you out of it). Here are some suggestions that I have found to work for some parents:
    • Stretching your neck muscles
    • Ten deep breaths
    • Cold water splashed on your face
    • Shaking your hands out
    • Looking into your eyes, in the mirror
    • Reading your family mission statement
    • Closing your eyes and open and close your mouth as wide as you can
    • Sitting down, clasping your hands, closing your eyes and repeating a Bible verse
    • Closing the door between you and your children and counting 10 slow, even breaths
    • Jumping up and down in place
    • Doing a yoga pose
    • Counting to three, then taking ten deep breaths
    • Tightening and then relaxing your facial muscles
  • Last-but-not-least – recognize that your child is a child. Acting like a child because he is a child. All is well.

One thing that I always feel is important is that you recognize your overreaction, to your family and to your child, after you have found your way back to your Calm. Apologizing gets you back on track – and it repairs the relationship and teaches your child about making mistakes, making amends, and forgiveness.

Pull the Car Over – How to stop the madness in the backseat

Fighting and Screaming in the car.

Children fighting and screaming, and even hurting each other in the back of the car, is a common scenario. Once a pattern is set, it can be difficult to change. Incentives haven’t worked. Taking away music and video hasn’t worked. Try this and tell me how it goes:

  • You’ll have to make provisions in your schedule to get out of the house extra early. Get out ahead of schedule.
  • Once the fighting starts, pull the car over. Stay calm (and get out if you have to, to remain calm). Ignore any moans and carrying on and don’t say anything. Just sit there. This will be a surprise for them. Note: it will be a lot more effective if you do it on the way to something that they are really anxious to get to, the first time that you try it.
  • Once the bickering stops, start driving, hopefully not saying anything through the whole exchange.
  • If it starts up, again, and the conflicts continue in the backseat, calmly pull off the road, again. Turn off your engine, this time. If you have to talk, limit your comments to “I’ll just wait.” Your quiet, calm waiting will send the message.

Children fighting in the back seat, what to do?

  • You can drive, soon, “when it’s safe.”  You may need to repeat this a few times, but as long as you remain calm and refuse to drive to the event until it is calm and quiet, you’re children will get a clear message. It may just take one or two times to have a much quieter drive, but that is a small price to pay to have your focus on the road, again. Good luck!

Valentine’s Day Date – a solution to behavioral problems, with children

Behavioral problems can sometimes begin with a child seeing themselves through someone else’s eyes. The eyes of someone who sees them ALWAYS misbehaving. I am not blaming you. The behavioral pattern may have started because of copy-catting someone else. It may have started because of a developmental stage. It may have happened as a result of a big change in your life/your family’s life. BUT…the bottom line is that you may be inadvertently adding to your child’s behavioral patterns by noticing them. And statements like “You always…” “You are…” don’t help. What does help? This is where a bit of one-on-one coaching can help to quickly get to the root cause and even quicker start turning bad to good. But… if you are going to try this on your own, here are the steps that I suggest.

1) Start noting every time your child isn’t doing it – and tell them you saw.

2) When the behavioral problem does occur, sit and discuss how they are feeling and WHY they did what they did. Don’t use this as a teachable moment; just listen to feelings.

3) Tell your child what the rule is and what is SHOULD look like and help them visualize the new rule in action by having them tell YOU what the new rule is.

4) Notice every time they do it right. Every time. Even small steps in the right direction.

5) Spend a little one-on-one time with your child, every day, especially the same-sex parent.

Step #5 might be the most important step in helping your child navigate his way away from this behavior. This Special Time should be child-led, child-centered, and all about them. Get on the floor. Play with their trains. Play hide and seek (and be super easy to find – don’t make this about winning, make it silly, fun, and about them). This can go a long way to helping them feel loved, accepted, and they may even begin to see themselves in a different light – your hope! Each parent should make this attempt, every day, with every child – but especially the child that is misbehaving.

This dad nailed it. I love this video; it made me a bit teary, even. This is the kind of Special Time, every daughter dreams of.

If you’d like to discuss one-on-one coaching with me, click here.