It’s true: moms are superhuman. But sometimes the ‘human’ part means we lose our temper with our kids, even when we don’t mean to. Next time your toddler or teen (and most of these tactics should work just as well with babies) push your buttons, try one of these tricks to avoid losing your patience with your child.
Know your triggers
If you know that nagging the kids to put on their pajamas and brush their teeth are situations that regularly set you off, go in prepared. Know that they’re likely to push your buttons and plan ahead how (or if…) you’d like to respond.
At the same time, know what your child’s triggers are. If your toddler throws a tantrum when you take him out the bath, try reminding him that he only has ‘three more minutes’, then ‘one more minute until we’re getting out the bath’. Kids like to know what’s going to happen next so they don’t feel like they are being thrown into a situation.
The smartest thing a mom can do is know when she’s not in control of her emotions. Don’t worry, it happens to all of us. As long as your child is in a safe environment, just walk away. If they’re old enough to understand, try telling them that you’re not prepared to enter into an argument with them at this time and will be taking 5 minutes to yourself. Those few moments of calm or quiet might be exactly what you need to stop you from losing your cool – and giving your child some space might encourage them to calm down too.
It’s tempting to answer, “Because I said so” when your child asks a question that irks or when they refuse to do what you’ve asked. But you might have more luck explaining ‘why’ you want things done a certain way. For example, “I need you to put your shoes on quickly so that we can get to the shops before they close. If we don’t get there in time we won’t have anything for supper tonight.”
Remember that effective communication relies heavily on both of you being calm. If your child is still raging, give them some time to cool off before trying to reason with them.
Choose your battles
Decide what’s really important to you. For some moms, kids taking their own dinner plate to the sink is a non-negotiable, while for others it’s a battle they’d prefer not to get into. There will be a million triggers throughout the day so choose your battles by deciding what’s really important to you. It’s okay to let the rest of the stuff slide.
It’s normal to feel terrible if you lose your temper with your child. But feeling guilty about it won’t help and – generally speaking – kids forget about it and move on pretty quickly. You should too. Dwelling on it will also make you more likely to have another blowout.
No surprises here: a mom who isn’t overwhelmed, overtired and stressed to the max has a better chance of keeping her cool. We know it can seem impossible but try to do something that’s just for you every day – whether that’s a bath, 20 minutes of meditation, reading a book before bed or mindlessly sitting in front of the TV.
And don’t give yourself a hard time for not being a perfect parent – perfect parents don’t exist so it really is okay to be a “good enough” parent.