Calm parenting—is there such a thing? The short answer is yes, there is. But, it comes with some effort and the skill of managing yourself. Will there be mistakes along the way? The answer to that is also yes.
For sure, family life is going to have stressed filled, noisy, and chaotic moments. However, when we develop and model the skill of self-regulation, it can help you stay calm in those times. And, as an added bonus, you will also be passing on a great benefit and teaching tool to your children. So, let’s look at five ways to attain the skill of calm parenting.
Five Steps Toward Calm Parenting Even When You’re Feeling Anything But Calm
1. Take notice of where your child is in the moment and adjust your expectations
As parents, we help our children develop, but we also must accept where they are too.
Therefore, as your child grows and changes, so should your expectations for them as well. When they are small, they experience such emotions as frustration, disappointment, and anger, just like we do. However, their little brains aren’t equipped to handle those emotions, to know how to calm down, consider options or make well-thought-out decisions.
So the next time your child has a throw-down hissy fit, try to grasp that their emotions are bigger than they are, and hopefully, you will empathize with them instead of being so annoyed.
2. Disconnect your emotions from theirs
This, of course, can be hard to do in the middle of your child’s meltdown. And especially so if it is happening in a public place. However, you are the adult, which means it is your job to separate yourself from your child’s emotions and remain calm and in control even though your child is out of control.
Along with the first step of adjusting your expectations is figuring out what exactly triggers you to react.
For me, when my children were young, it was hearing them fighting with one another and walking into a room they had turned upside down (and I mean, upside down and inside out). Unconsciously, it seemed the clutter would set me off, and I would lose my cool. Eventually, I learned to ignore the mess and focus more on what was going on with my children.
Isn’t it ironic that as parents, we are handed the responsibility of teaching our kids self-regulation skills but sometimes can’t handle our own? Over time I learned how to steady my impulse to go off and remain calm, but it was a process.
Now about that process. You might want to keep in mind that children are the original “quicker picker-uppers,” NOT Bounty paper towels. They absorb everything around them. And because of their sponge-like capacity, they pick up on the way you express your emotions—both good and bad.
So, when you feel yourself starting to react, take a deep breath (which interrupts the stress response) and have some go-to parenting mantras ready to help calm you. Here are a few examples:
- “I am the parent.”
- “He/She’s just a child.”
- “I will not take this personally.”
- “I will focus on the positive.”
- “Just breathe; I can do this.”
- “I will slow down and listen.”
- “This too shall pass.”
Taking a mindful pause before responding, rather than reacting right away, will help you become a more calm and compassionate parent.
3. Stock your parenting toolbox with the right tools
Without realizing it, most of us start out raising our children with some old rusty parenting tools that were handed down from our parents, who inherited them from their parents, and so on for generations. But let’s be honest, while some of these tools may be helpful, others could be harmful.
And so, while we would never intentionally hurt our children, we do so with not having the right tools in our possession. Unlike generations past, we are privy to richer materials for learning at the end of our fingertips.
Therefore, take inventory of your toolbox. Decide which tools need to be tossed while consciously choosing to learn and pick up some newer and more productive tools for the art of successful parenting.
4. Don’t forget your needs in the process
This step is often pushed aside, postponed, or neglected altogether. This is unfortunate because, truthfully, making sure you take the time and effort to care for yourself is the best way to take care of your family. Let me explain.
Parenting is exhausting. And while you may be able to push through and appear to be the super-parent, it will come at a cost to not only you but your family as well.
Without making self-care a priority, it won’t be long before heading toward a downward spiral of feeling stressed and overwhelmed. This, in turn, makes it more challenging to be an empathetic and calm parent.
5. Have a plan of action for when you lose it
Because you will—we all have, and it’s a good bet you will again. Kids know how to push our every last button (bless their hearts). And sometimes, we let those little angels get the best of us.
But here’s the thing to remember, “losing it” is a part of life and a part of relationships. You, as the parent, can use it for a teaching lesson by (1) Admitting you lost your temper. (2) Apologizing to your child. (3) Telling your child how you calmed yourself down.
Everyone makes mistakes. Give yourself some grace. Every parent is on the same journey. They might take different routes but nonetheless the same journey of trying to be the best parent they can be.
Calmness comes from within; you won’t find it externally.
Every parent desires a peaceful home with less conflict and a lot more understanding. And believe it or not, the most effective way to achieve that is to start focusing on you and less on your kids. In addition, learning how to self-regulate allows you to stay calm under pressure. If you utilize the five steps above, I believe they will help you manage the stresses and responsibilities of parenting even in the worst times.
However, if you would like support to help you on your journey of calm parenting, working with an anxiety coach through breakthrough coaching is a great way to go about it. Coaches can help you with strategies to maintain calm in stressful situations.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. The easiest way to start taking control of your anxiety is to take the FREE 5-Day Anxiety Detox Challenge. If you would like more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or make an appointment online. Together, let’s work on strategies to manage the stresses that family life can bring and watch as you experience the power of peaceful and calm parenting.