“Everyday is a new day to be the person we want our children to become.”
Think about when our children trigger a negative response from us:
- They refuse to put their shoes on when we’re rushing to get to the car.
- They won’t eat the breakfast that you woke up early to make.
- They spilled milk because they insisted on pouring it themselves.
All of these little things can lead to a big response from us: “You have to get your shoes on. We’re running late!!” “I made this breakfast for you. You’re gonna be hungry if you don’t eat…” “If you had let me pour the milk like I told you, it wouldn’t have spilled!”
I get it because I’ve been there (I *am* there), but lately I’ve been thinking about how my negativity in those moments are making things worse, not better. It’s my job to figure out how to respond to my kids in these moments because they are learning how to be an adult, and how to be a parent, from watching me.
So, I’ve been working on this. I’m not perfect, and I don’t always get it right, but I am trying a few little tricks that are making a big difference…
Recently, I found the morning getting away from me. My daughter’s curly hair was all over her face. My son was running around naked. And, breakfast was more like the opening of Dexter: unappetizing.
I knew we wouldn’t get out of the door on time. *cue deep breath*
My daughter looked at me anxiously and asked, “Are we going to be late, Mommy?”
Last year, I would have responded differently. I would have spit out some snarky response like, “yes…AGAIN.” But, it’s a goal of mine to respond differently this year, so I told her, “Yes. We will probably be late. But, we can’t get it right every morning! I’m not going to rush and get frustrated.”
That day, she saw a Mom who chose peace over stress. So, she wasn’t stressed. She wasn’t yelling or running around frantically like I’ve role modeled to her so many times over the last year.
Children become who we are. Be who you want your child to be.
I am trying everyday to stop myself from going to that place of frustration and stress because we can’t take back those moments.
1 Tip to Deal with Daily Frustration & Stress
Like the example above, I found that I was reacting a lot to my kids in the mornings. Admittedly, the mornings stress me out. I’ve started practicing this simple trick over the past year to try and stop myself from raising my voice or shaming my kids because we’re late: I’m pausing.
And, it’s doing wonders.
In fact, I recently read an article about how to stop yelling and they agree that pausing can truly help when we have the feeling that we need to “herd” or force our children to be the way that we need them to be:
Keep in mind that we have a tendency to want others to think and act the way we want them to think and act when we get anxious, particularly our children. This is called the “herding” instinct; it makes us feel calmer when others act in ways that fit our needs. When we can’t get others to “be” the way we need them to be, we get more anxious and start shouting at them in our attempt to “herd” them. Know that this is a natural tendency that occurs in all of us, and prepare for it to happen when you get triggered. Stop, pause and recognize that you can’t yell your way to calm
How can you practice pausing before you react?
- Take a moment when they refuse to put on their shoes and don’t say anything.
- Count to 10.
- Take a deep breath.
Whatever it is that will give you pause, start to practice that.
Reacting without thinking is what causes us to yell, to get upset, to forget to censor our responses.
The best part is that I see my kids doing this too. When their frustrated, my three-year-old will take a deep breath (or try to – it’s a little hard for him). My six-year-old will say, “Mom, I need a minute.” These are all little tricks that my kids are learning because they’re watching me do it too.
After you’ve paused, try using these 4 words:
I see that…or?
- “I see that you haven’t put on your shoes yet and we’re leaving. Do you need help or another pair of shoes?”
- “I see that you didn’t eat breakfast this morning. Are you feeling okay or did you want something different? I’ll write down what you’d like for tomorrow.”
- “I see that you spilled the milk. Can I help you next time or should we put it in a smaller container?”
Kids have tough mornings too. I try really hard to get at the root of what’s going on with my kids everyday without assuming that they are being a pain, defiant, or a terrible listener. Sometimes, something more is going on. By labeling what I see and asking questions about what I think is going on, my kids get the chance to tell me what they’re experiencing (they need help) instead of what I’m experiencing (they’re not listening).
Does it mean we’re late some mornings? YES.
Does it mean that they always answer me in the way that’d I’d like? NO!
But, everyday, I want my children to know that I value them. That I give them the benefit of the doubt. And, instead of reprimanding them all of the time, that I care to know about what’s really going on because they’re important to me.
Everyday is a new day to be the person we want our children to become.
We have a choice in those frustrating moments…
We need to work on how we respond to our kids. To accept that we’re not perfect. To remember that we won’t always get it right, but we are trying…
That is the person that our kids need to see everyday: Not perfect, but trying.