3 steps to staying calm when you just want to yell!

We’ve all experienced it.

We’ve asked our kids to do something really simple – a reasonable request. We ask in a calm and clear way.

But they don’t listen. They ignore us.

We ask again, and again, and then again. Until, we’re so frustrated that we lose it!

This is what happened to a mum I was chatting to recently. She had repeatedly told her daughter to be careful with her drink but her daughter wasn’t listening. So when her daughter spilled the drink all over their new couch, she lost it!

Her daughter then started crying and, of course, the mum felt terrible.

How could she have handled it differently?

Here are 3 steps to try.

I told you so!

This was probably what was running through the mum’s head when her child spilt the drink.

‘I told her to be careful!’ ‘I told her more than once!’ ‘She didn’t listen to me!’ ‘Why doesn’t she ever listen to me!’

These thoughts might be true. We might be able to find ample evidence to support these thoughts to be true.

You did ask your child to be careful, more than once, and your child didn’t listen.

But whether they are true or not doesn’t matter. The fact is that these thoughts aren’t helpful.

They are the kinds of thoughts that encourage an over-reaction.

They can trigger the anger and then the yelling. And that’s not how we want to behave so then we can feel guilty.

Instead, we can be aware when these stories are forming in our heads, and we can tap into another perspective.

I’m feeling like this

How can you prevent yourself from losing it and over-reacting? It really helps to notice how you’re feeling.

In this case, the mum was feeling like she wasn’t being heard or listened to or respected.

That was leading to a sense of anger, annoyance and frustration.

Those feelings were building up each time that she asked her daughter to be careful with her drink and her daughter didn’t change her behaviour.

Then when her child did spill her drink, the feelings overflowed and the outburst began.

Instead, you could try noticing the feeling. Acknowledge it. Say to yourself, ‘Oh I’m getting angry here. This is really annoying me’.

Don’t judge whether the emotion is right or wrong. Simply be curious and interested. Then take a deep breath.

Find the better response

Once you’re aware of how you are feeling and the stories running through your head, you’ve moved beyond reacting.

You’re now more likely to respond with more awareness and intention.

You’ve opened up a space to find a better response. That response might be:

Stopping what you are doing, going over to your child, explaining why you don’t want them to run around the house with a drink and suggesting that they put it down on the table.

Or realizing that mistakes happen and a spilt drink doesn’t really matter even though you asked your child several times to be careful.

Or focusing on your child helping to clean up the mess. Not as a punishment for their behaviour, but as a natural consequence. If you’re not careful with your drink and you spill it, you have to clean it up.

Any of these three options are better than over-reacting and yelling.

They’re a way to guide your child’s behaviour and support their learning.

It’s difficult to take this loving, guiding action if we don’t first acknowledge what we’re thinking and feeling.

That’s why a deep breath and a bit of self-awareness can make all the difference.

Jodie Benveniste

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