Preventing Parental Meltdowns

calmThis is part 2 of this week’s series on Parental Anger

Every parent will have bad days – times when we’re overwhelmed and stressed, and find ourselves yelling at our kids. We want to do what we can to reduce these meltdowns. Regular readers of my blog may notice that some of these tips relate quite closely to my Tips for Taming Toddler Meltdowns, because we’re human beings just like our kids are, and we need some of the same basic stuff to be happy…

  • Eat, Sleep, and Be Well: Just as a toddler is more likely to melt down when hungry, tired, or sick, so are we. As much as possible, take care of your body.
  • Reduce Stress / Make Lifestyle Choices that Make it Easier to Be Happy: The more generalized stress we’re living with, the more likely we are to get upset easily and have a hard time calming ourselves down. Here are some ways to reduce stress
    • Make a list of people and situations you find stressful. Can you reduce your exposure to them? Can you make a plan for managing them? Can you ask someone to support you in dealing with those situations?
    • Take deep breaths, meditate, or visualize yourself in a peaceful place.
    • Move, dance, exercise, or go for a walk outdoors.
    • Make time for self care and for doing things that you enjoy.
  • Get support from others. Talking to others (especially other parents) can help!
  • Figure out your triggers: what are things that are likely to trigger your anger? What can you do to reduce your chance of encountering them? When one of your triggers is happening, it can even help to say to yourself “this is the kind of thing that really makes me mad… how can I manage my feelings in the next few minutes?”
  • Look for consistent patterns: If you’re yelling at the kids every morning before school, think about what you could change in the routine to help mornings go better. If you’re battling with your child over the same issue over and over, maybe it’s worth looking at it in detail when you’re calm, and deciding exactly what the rules are and what the consequences are for breaking them.
  • Heal your past: If you have unresolved issues in your emotional / family history, get support with processing them, so you don’t take that historical anger out on your kids.
  • Acknowledge present stresses: “Mommy is really overloaded with work right now and really worried about how she’ll get it all done. So, she may be acting angry more than usual. But it’s not your fault.” Or “I’m really in pain today, so I’m having a hard time being patient.”

Sometimes, despite your best efforts and intentions, you will melt down. You will get angry. Read on for tips on handling your anger in the moment.

photo credit: 湯河原町, 日本. Yugiwara Japan via photopin (license)

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