I know there are parents out there who manage to never shout. Theoretically, anyway. There are some parents I know who always seem astonishingly calm, though so do their children. Are their children calm because they are, or are they calm because their children are? Chicken and egg situation, really.
Anyway, I shout far, far too much and I seem to be doing it more at the moment.
So, today, I’m trying to stay calm a bit more and I dug out graphic above, which I made a while ago to remind me of some little tricks and techniques for staying calm.
How to keep from shouting at your kids
Count to 3
Counting to three can work in two ways. ‘I’m going to count to three and then…’ has a remarkable effect, and sometimes you don’t actually have to even start counting. Just counting to three inside your head can help, too, as just that brief pause instead of immediately launching into shouting can make you realise it’s not all that bad after all.
I am constantly suggesting to the girls that they breathe away their tears – ‘Blow out the candles!’ – and yet I forget to do it myself. If it doesn’t make you feel a little silly, then you can use a visualisation at the same time – blow out all the negativity and feel it leaving your body and blowing away out the window, along the street, down the road, over the fields and all the way to the sea, where it disintegrates. I’m not usually very good at that kind of thing, but it does seem to help. You can also push it away with your hands, as if you were pushing someone else away.
Does it REALLY matter?
While you’re counting to three and breathing, take a second to decide if it really matters. I think most people have a tendency to get wound up about a few little things that just really, really bug them. But, often, these are things that aren’t of paramount importance. Is it really necessary to shout about blowing bubbles in milk? Is it really necessary to shout about making a mess? Is it really necessary to shout about putting pyjamas on right that very second? Leave the shouting for the big things, like when they run into the road or throw your computer out the window (no, this hasn’t happened, though LaLa did kill the netbook with squished banana – I don’t think I shouted at her, but maybe I did).
Count to 15
Sometimes three seconds isn’t enough. Sometimes you need a little bit more time to calm down. And that might be enough time to weigh up the balance of whether it does or doesn’t matter. Are you going to get more results if you use a different technique than shouting? Which, frankly, isn’t a technique, is it?
It really is amazing how much more effective being silly can be than shouting. Shouting tends to result in lots of crying and rarely actually gets them to do what you wanted to do, or stop doing what you wanted them to stop doing. You want them to pick up the cushions from the floor? Put on a funny accent or silly voice and ask them, or walk and talk like a robot. Do a funny dance. Get out some puppets and make them talk to each other about what needs doing. Lie down on the floor and have a fake tantrum. There’s lots of possibilities, really.
Leave the room
Sometimes you need to give yourself some space and give your children some, too. As long as it’s safe to do so, leave the room. It could be for a few seconds while you silently scream or stomp about it. Or it could be for ten minutes so you can do something else and put it out of your mind. Or it could be for five minutes for your child to stop having a tantrum. Tell them you’re leaving the room to calm down or to wait for them to calm down and try to tell them calmly so it’s not a punishment, just something that needs to be done. If they’re having a tantrum they will usually calm down and come through for a cuddle and, often, if you wanted them to do something and they appeared not to be listening, you might find they were actually listening and, by the time, you return they’ve done what you wanted – just in their own time.
Sing what you want them to do
This is similar to being silly, but can also be quite fun. Put the words of what you want them to do to a nursery rhyme tune or other song they’re familiar with. Or just turn what you want into a rap or rhyme. You don’t really need to be in tune or good at singing, as they’ll enjoy it whether you are or not. You’ll probably find they start joining in, too, and they’ll be much more willing to do what you wanted them to do. And, even if they don’t, you’ll probably all have a laugh and feel better about it, anyway.
Count to 20
Yes, sometimes you need even more time to calm down. You might even need to count to 100 sometimes.
Remember, it’s all just a phase!
And, if all else fails, remember it really is just a phase. The tantrums do stop. The attitude does stop. The emotional maturity will develop. The ability to problem solve will develop. And, well, one day they’ll leave home and then you’ll look back on these days with nostalgia and longing. Probably.
Do you have any other techniques to stop yourself from shouting? Or are you one of the few people who is just doesn’t shout?