Let’s be honest. This parenting business can be stressful AF. And, unless you’re a practising Buddhist monk, you’ve probably flipped out at your kids a few (hundred) times. Like it or not, it goes along with the territory, and it doesn’t make you a bad parent. But, it’s important to know and understand the long term effects that regular bursts of anger can have on your children if you’re serious about trying to minimise them, and want to adopt a more peaceful parenting approach.
Kids who regularly see their parents angry end up being less empathetic than those raised in more calm households. These kids also tend to be more aggressive, are more like to suffer from depression, and perform worse in school*. So, if you’ve been convincing yourself that your anger issue isn’t something to worry about, think again.
The good news is, there are ways to get it under control, even if yelling has been your go-to disciplinary method so far. Peaceful parenting is an ongoing struggle for me and one of the things I need to constantly do is look at my own self care – if I let that slide, my patience wears thin and I find it a lot harder to stay calm. (Read more on Why Self Care Isn’t Selfish here).
Here are some easy tips on how to be calm and stop yelling:
Peaceful Parenting: Short circuit your anger
Notice the early signs of stress so you can become aware of when stress is coming on and stop it in its tracks. Be prepared for a potential meltdown from your tiny human and instead of getting angry, be ready to distract them with toys, food or one of their favourite comforts.
Peaceful Parenting: Give yourself a timeout
Take a break from the situation. Walk away or go into the next room. Distract yourself with an activity or simply bring your attention to your body. Watch the breath come and go, and as you breathe out imagine the anger being released from your body. Only go back when you have settled.
Peaceful Parenting: Express yourself
Explain your anger instead of releasing it. Pause, count to five and then communicate clearly what has made you upset. Own up to how you’re feeling and apologise for overreacting if you need to. Even if your kids don’t understand what you’re saying, you’ll benefit just from saying it aloud to yourself.
Peaceful Parenting: Ask the right questions
Instead of asking why this is happening to you, ask yourself why this might be happening at all. Often, your kids don’t want to upset you, they are acting out because they want attention, or perhaps they are tired or hungry. See if you can be more compassionate with your kids by trying to understand where they are coming from, instead of going straight to disciplining them.
Peaceful Parenting: It Takes Practice
It will take to time to make each of these peaceful parenting habits replace your current reactions. Be patient with yourself and keep trying. Eventually you will be re-wiring your neurological pathways away from the angry route making way for a more calm, considered response and peaceful household.
*When Anger Hurts Your Kids, Matthew McKay PhD
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Catherine Nelson-Williams is the author of this article and founder of The Nursery Collective. She is a mum of two and juggles being a WAHM with blogging and running The Nursery Collective – a haven for mamas navigating the early years of motherhood, where you can find unique boutiques and services for Mum, Baby & Kids all in the one place.