Monday, January 13, 2014

Keeping your cool

They say the two's are terrible but my little granddaughter is three and I'm thinking it may be worse.  Temper tantrums {she has quite a stubborn streak} combined with non-stop talking and a little girl attitude- oh my! She can test this Mimi's patience on a good day.

I remember being the same way when my boys were little.  My frustration tolerance was low and too many repetitive questions or mouth noises could push this mama over the edge. 

The Bible talks about maintaining our composure and I think verses like this can certainly apply to parenthood.

"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires."~ James 1:19-20

Getting angry and frustrated with your kids doesn't fix any situation and it certainly doesn't make you feel good about yourself.  Here are a few tips for staying cool even when the kids are having an off day:
  • Count to 10. I know you've heard it before and it sounds cheesy but it really does help. If you can't count to 10, then at least count to 3. The point is to disengage your brain from your anger and give it time to think rationally.
  • Figure out the root cause. Kids don't act out for no reason.  Typically, they are over or under stimulated, tired, hungry, cranky or feeling out of sorts for some other reason. Figure out that reason and you can fix the underlying issue and everyone will have a better day.
  • Be consistent with discipline.  You can't punish a child for a certain misbehavior one day and ignore the same behavior the next or your child will be confused about what you expect from them. Focus on a few target behaviors and be consistent with the consequences. 
  • Let go of the little things.  If you are "on" your child about every little thing, you will both be cranky and irritated. You aren't perfect so it's unfair to expect your child to be. 
  • Stick to a schedule.  Small kids respond better to routine.  Have a bedtime routine, a mealtime routine, etc. It's okay to stray from your routine for a special occasion but the more a child knows what to expect, the better behaved they tend to be.
  • Put yourself in timeout.  It is okay to put a screaming child in their crib and go outside for a few minutes.  Know your limits and if you are going to act out in anger or frustration, put your child in a safe place and remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes. Call a friend or mentor, pray, listen to music- do whatever will help you calm down before you press re-start and try again. We all get to that place at one time or another. It is better to take a break for a few minutes then to do something out of anger that you can't take back.
What are some healthy ways you deal with frustration?

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