Recently I shared an article titled “Emotional Regulation” where we scratched the surface on what it means to be able to regulate our emotions. More importantly, we took some time to consider how our choices directly relate to consequences for not only ourselves but for our children as well.
As we can all agree, our ability to make decisions tend to decline as we become upset. This is part of being human. The good news is that we can all work toward improving the way we handle strong emotions.
The same is true for our kids. When they are no longer calm, their emotions escalate and irrational behavior starts to rear its ugly head! Yuck!
Staying calms helps your kids!
Maintaining your composure teaches your kids several important life lessons:
- Engaging in power struggles will get us no where
- How to calmly and effectively solve problems with others
- We all have the choice to remain calm
- All situations have choices and consequences
- They too can control outcomes of situations by using positive decision making.
It is truly up to each one of us to make a conscious choice to keep our emotional decision making to a minimum by staying calm.
And there it is again – that word calm. How exactly are we to stay calm when our kid is flat out refusing to do what they were told?
What if you’re late for work and they won’t get dressed? Now what?
Right about now I can image that several of you reading this are probably asking similar questions as, “How am I supposed to stay calm? My kids aren’t showing respectful behavior and I’ve got to get to work! Aarrrggghhh!!!”
Believe me, I hear you! I’ve been in situations like these many times. It’s part of raising kids and teaching them how to regulate their emotions and how to problem solve situations with others. Remember, you are the role model for this skill. The more work you do in this area to teach and support your kids, the better they will be able to begin using these skills on their own. Won’t that be fabulous??
So back to our examples of needing to stay calm as you try to help your children work through their own strong emotions, I want you to find your own personal system of regulating your emotions. You must be able to be in control yourself long before you expect your child to show control.
Here are some suggestions that I have given to empower parents in using emotional regulation to stay calm:
- Set a timer for compliance- this gives both of you a break and time to think
- Deep breathing by inhaling to the count of 3, hold for 3, and exhale for 3. Repeat.
- Call someone in your support network to help you through the present moment. Be careful not to lose control in front of your child. This will not help matters.
- Set up an incentive based coping and behavior plan
- Don’t engage in power struggles or yelling, calmly state your request and walk away. Freeze all privileges until compliance is reached (this detail must be established before using it with your upset child).
- In the case of morning struggles (as described above) talk with your boss about the current situation that you are working to resolve with your child and take honest steps to improve your ability to get to work on time by using some of the above ideas and enlisting the help of family and friends
Each of these ideas will work to maintain your sanity and to encourage calmness in your home. Always remember that we are all different and what works wonders for one person may not work well for another.
Be willing to try these suggestions for at least a month to determine there long term effect. By nature, children will test boundaries to see if you mean business and if the plan is here to stay. When you consistently follow through on a strategy while being a model of calmness, your kids will respond.
Got questions? I’ve got answers! There was a lot of information shared here, and much more that could be elaborated on. Comment below and I will personally respond to your questions!
Barb, LMHC, CPC
BONUS: Get your free copy of our 11 page bonus material! You will get several behavior plan examples, tips on communicating with your kids, and the best ways to use consequences. All of these things are part of having a solid behavior plan and coping tool plan with your kids.