October 11th, 2020
We all know anger is DESTRUCTIVE and shouting at our children just doesn’t work, so how do we remain calm and carry on?
You know the drill. You make steely vows to yourself that you will do your deep breathing, count to 10, and imagine your head as a pressure cooker, releasing all the steam!
Dealing with tears, tantrums and everything in between is par for the course when bringing up kids, but keeping calm in the face of flashpoints can feel like an impossible task. However much we insta-hashtag ourselves into staying calmer, being stronger, or just shouting less, the reality is our children press our buttons!
It’s easy to change from being a calm, rational human being to an authoritarian dictator consumed with rage because your three-year-old is not putting his shoes on quickly enough and you are going to be late for nursery school or work.
All of us will have said and done things that we have come to regret. Adult anger can be destructive and if unleashed on kids can have damaging effects, often leaving younger children confused and fearful. We know shouting at our children doesn’t work and yet there will be moments when we end up screaming like a banshee. We resort to saying things like:
“Why can’t you just do as you’re told? Stop whining or I’ll give you something to really complain about! No one is interested in your crying, so just stop it NOW!”
Adult rage can leave children feeling stressed and some children may remain with elevated stress levels for a while afterwards. When we’re stressed, our bodies produce the hormone cortisol. If cortisol remains in children’s systems their learning is compromised and there can be implications for physical and mental health. When we’re stressed heart rates go up, vision and hearing is impeded and our access to our pre-frontal lobes with all their cognitive and reasoning functions is restricted.
Sometimes children may feel responsible for their parent’s rage. It may result in compliance in the moment, but it breaks connection and reduces parental influence and is unlikely to create long-term learning.
And what children see, children do. Don’t be surprised if they start showing more aggression and rage with you and with others.
Our objective as parents is to keep calm and use positive and consistent strategies in raising our children, and we all need support to defuse our buttons in the moment.
So what are the remedies?
Teach the kids to use cool down strategies too. You may use a visualisation strategy like imagining a beach or place with happy memories, or a physical one, such as going for a walk or splashing your face with cold water. Or you may opt to use a calming mantra: “This too will pass. I need to be the adult here.”
Posted in: Keeping Calm
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