The guilt starts gnawing at me at night as I sip my chamomile tea after tucking my two girls to bed. It starts as a gentle nudge and builds up into a roaring river, sweeping away my peace in its wake.
Maybe it’s the way my daughters’ quip “goodnight mom, you are the best” that stifles me. Maybe it’s their scent that lingers on me after the good night’s hugs and kisses.
As the girls trail off to slumberland, all the tiffs we had during the day replay in my head.
I recall how I furiously scolded my preschooler for losing her watch in school. I recall how I bellowed at my toddler for tearing her new doll apart.
I furrow my brow and sigh in exasperation. If only I was able to get a grip of my emotions when my kids upset me! If only I was able to correct them without losing my marbles!
But do the two really mix? Being calm and parenting? Doesn’t becoming a parent toss away every iota of calmness one had garnered in life? Because let’s be brutally honest, kids do a really neat job of driving us up the wall.
But deep down, I loathe my abrasive way of handling my kids’ misbehavior. I am not proud of all my huffing and puffing when they cross the line.
I would love to be able to discipline and guide my tots a tad gently, despite the gravity of their mistakes.
So I immersed myself in research and dug up 6 things that parenting experts recommend for parents who need a little help keeping their hair on. Read on to find them out.
#1. Lower Your Expectations
Why does it surprise us when our kids throw tantrums, engage in sibling rivalry, try to manipulate us, scribble on our walls and chow down our hand lotion?
How else are kids supposed to behave? Could it be that we view our kids as our peers? Why do we crave mature kids?
Children shed off childish behavior as they grow. It’s perfectly normal for your 4-year-old to spit out a lie to save their skin. It is normal for your 6-year-old to be melodramatic. It’s part of their development.
There’s no need to fret when we spot our kids being ‘kids’. We may need to tone down our expectations a little and allow them to bloom.
#2. Pause Before Acting
Yes, your son just hit his sister. You are frothing at the mouth; you want to give your son a piece of your mind before disciplining him.
But before you set the tirade rolling – Stop. Pause. Simmer down. We know it’s hard, we know it is unnatural but please take a moment and pause.
Take a deep breath, count one to ten, take time out – do all it takes to hold your enraged horses.
As you pause, you are allowing the voice of reason to prevail. You can assess the situation better. Yes, your son has crossed the line but what triggered that? Has he seen people hitting each other? Who are his friends at school?
As you take a minute to analyze the situation (of course after yanking your daughter to safety and comforting her), you are more likely to get to the root of the problem.
Your son is more likely to spit out the truth behind his action to a calm parent than to a furious one.
#3. Lend Your Child An Ear
Kids are actually very brilliant and good-willed. They are just grossly underrated, mostly by their parents.
When children err, we want to crack the whip immediately. We want to nip the misbehavior in the bud and urgency is of the essence.
We often don’t take time to listen to their side of the story. We are sure their words will make no sense to us. We fret that their ill actions mean that they will turn out to be terrible kids.
We imagine that they are on a mission to make us the laughing stock of society and we won’t take that lying down.
So we pounce on them and unleash a tornado of furry. We forget that there’s often a reason behind a child’s action. But we need to listen to them in order to cherry-pick it.
Furthermore, as you listen to your child, they feel valued, they get to learn that their opinion matters, that you respect them, and want to understand them. You are fortifying their self-esteem.
They may be on the wrong alright but this is your chance to get to the root of the problem – don’t squander it.
Remember you want your child to grow up confident that they can always count on you to listen.
You need them to trust you later in life as they maneuver a myriad of teenage pressures. You need to build that foundation in their younger years.
#4. Shun Your Ego
Yes, your authority as a parent has been ruffled. You want to show your child what you are capable of when provoked. But we suggest you take a moment and hush your ego’s voice.
Your ego will be wringing her hands restlessly, urging you to act swiftly. She will be raring to see you stamp your authority at the drop of a hat.
If you let her run the show, you risk losing an opportunity to pass on a lesson or two to your child.
#5. Check Your Triggers
Nancy has had a grueling day at work. Her boss opines that she is not giving the new project her best shot. She scampers home nursing a headache, scraping around for some peace.
Her son meets her at the door and timidly informs her that he lost his cardigan and shoes at school. Nancy is livid. She scolds him angrily and he scoots off to his room in tears.
We are more prone to being ruthless with our kids when stressed. Refrain from responding to your child’s misbehavior when the walls are closing in on you. You run the risk of meting out more terror than you needed to.
#6. Have Some Faith in Your Kids
The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them – Ernest Hemingway
You have consistently taught your kids the right behavior. You have not slept on your job as a parent. You even have a set of family rules plastered on your kitchen wall that tether your kids to the rules.
Having set a solid foundation, you need to let go and accord your kids some trust. Trust that they are capable of making the right choices in life.
No need to overreact when they veer off the rules once in a while. They are human after all and they too deserve forgiveness.
Parents easily fall into the trap of overreacting when their kids break even the slightest rules. This makes them scold and discipline them excessively. Aggressive disciplining meddles with a child’s self-esteem and worth. Kids too need to be trusted and listened to.