Have you ever lost your temper with your child and said some things that you wish you could suck right back into your mouth? I think we all have at some point. Today I’m talking about what you can do to stay calm and say the right things when your child is having an emotional breakdown.
As much as I love my little ones, there are times when I do get angry with them. It seems to happen at the most inopportune times, like when we’re in a grocery store or after a really long day, my kids will choose that time to have a meltdown. And after several moments of trying to manage the situation to no avail, I have sometimes found myself saying things that I wish I could take back. If you’re a mother, then I’m sure that you’ve been here before. But there are several things that you can do to get through these tough times – without saying things that you’ll regret later.
The most important thing to remember is that prevention is the best way to keep your cool. If you know that a certain time of day is when one of your kids gets really cranky, then try not to go on outings or schedule any important events to occur during that time. Similarly, if you know that your kids sometimes act out when younger kids are around to get attention, then try making her the “Group Leader” so that she feels important too. The key is to know what triggers your children and do your best to avoid them.
Of course, no matter how hard you try to avoid the meltdowns, at some point they will happen. And rather than make the situation worse by having an emotional meltdown along with your child, you could try a number of different things. One of the things that helps me is to try to put myself in my kid's position so that I can understand what’s causing the emotional breakdown. When you’re empathetic with your children, then it’s easier to help them through the situation without getting overly angry with them.
If that’s not working and you feel yourself getting angrier, try removing yourself from the situation. Give YOURSELF a time out. I usually go outside for a moment or go into the bathroom until I’m able to calm down and think more rationally. If that’s not possible, because you’re in a public place or there is a safety issue, then try using some relaxation techniques. Deep breathing is a great, easy way of reducing stress and getting yourself in a calmer frame of mind. You can also try singing to yourself or using positive self-talk, reminding yourself “I am doing the best I can right now” or “I can do this. I just have to relax so that I can think more clearly.”
Also, keep in mind that during these emotional outbursts, it is okay to talk to your child about what’s going on – you can even tell your children that you’re angry. Try saying something like “I still love you but right now I am very angry. I have asked you several times to stop throwing the ball in the house and now my favorite vase is broken. I am going into my room for a few minutes so that I can calm down.” It’s also great to set a time limit on your anger so that your kids won’t get overly anxious. You can say something like “When I come out of my room I will be done being angry.” Then go into your room and stay there until you are calm – because remember, you promised that you would be done being angry when you come out.
Also, remember that words are powerful and they can leave some powerful marks, especially if repeated over and over again. So, NO name calling. Describe the behavior and your feelings but do not say negative things about your child as a person. So, rather than saying, “Gina, you have been a bad girl and you make me mad” you could say “I am angry because you did not clean your room like I asked you to.” Focus on the behavior NOT the child!
Remember, kids are resilient and will bounce back. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you slip up. Do the best you can and focus on doing better each time.