A quick scroll through your Pinterest feed displays cool-down games, feeling-face posters, and jars of glitter floating gently through brightly-colored water.
All with the goal of helping your kids calm down.
This is a great goal. Kids need to learn how to manage their emotions and stay calm under pressure.
But what about you?
What about those times when you completely lose it with your kids? Or when you’re at the very end of your rope and feel like there’s no way out?
You need a calm-down plan for parents.
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS.
In order to create a calm-down plan that actually works, you need to take some time to process what’s going on inside. To figure out what you’re feeling, thinking and doing.
Once you’ve identified these things, you can decide to make a different choice or think a different thought, which may lead you to feel differently about yourself, the situation, and your child.
This is not easy stuff.
It’s way easier to put this on the kids. To say, “Shape up! Listen the first time! Settle down!”
But, instead of expecting your kids to stay calm, let’s turn the focus on you. Let’s get a handle on your big feelings so you can help your child manage theirs.
Here are some questions to think through in the moment or as you reflect on the moment later:
WHAT AM I FEELING?
WHAT AM I THINKING?
- This again?
- When will she learn?
- Why can’t he just listen the first time?
- What will my mother-in-law say?
- I stink at parenting.
- I give up.
- This is too hard.
- I have no idea what to do with you.
- You little brat.
- I’m out of control!
- Your feelings are scary.
- This positive parenting stuff doesn’t work.
- I’m a horrible mother.
- Where did I go wrong?
- Why can’t I figure this out?
WHAT AM I DOING?
- Using sarcasm
- Giving in
- Trying to win
WHAT CAN I DO INSTEAD?
- Take a deep breath
- Get a drink of water
- Repeat a mantra
- Text a friend
- Get down to my child’s level
- Get a breath of fresh air
- Listen empathetically
- Stop trying to win
- Have a snack
- Decide not to have the last word
- Splash water on my face
- Offer to cuddle
- Focus on connection
WHAT CAN I THINK INSTEAD?
- She is having a hard time.
- He needs help learning this skill.
- Next time I will give her a 5-minute warning.
- I am proud of the good choices I’ve made.
- I am doing the best I can.
- I love my kids too much to give up now.
- Parenting is hard, and I am up for the challenge.
- I am empathetic (even if I don’t agree)
- He is overwhelmed by big feelings!
- I can control my anger.
- We will get through these big feelings together.
- Positive parenting is new to me, and I am going to stick with it.
- I made a mistake, but that doesn’t mean I’m a horrible mom.
- My child and I are learning together.
- I will seek support to help me improve my parenting.
HOW DO I FEEL NOW?
ONE MORE THING…
As you’ve probably noticed, this calm-down plan requires thinking.
When you’re in the height of a major battle you’re not going to be thinking clearly.
But, if you can take a brief second to PAUSE, you can refocus. You can give yourself an out – an escape from the chaos – to get back into control of your thoughts, actions, and feelings.
It’s a decision you will have to make, but it’s one that will pay off greatly in the end.
(P.S. Those sparkly glitter jars work for calming parents too.)
This post originally appeared on Imperfect Families and can be found here. If you are a parent or caregiver and are looking for ways to incorporate self-care into your life, and to educate yourself in ways to better support your child(ren), you might want to learn more about our Free 6 week class called NAMI Basics for Parents and Caregivers. Learn more about this class here (scroll down to the section on NAMI Basics).