Tips To Keep Your Cool As A Parent

Children do delight us, but many times manage to irk us to kingdom come! Here’s how to be a calm, Zen-like parent despite it all…

Paint on the walls, oil on the floor, disobedience, disrespect or just plain ol’ refuting the rules – kids find new ways to drive hapless parents up the wall… And when we lose it as parents, it tends to be epic. The thing about parental emotions – be they anger, nervousness, anxiety or worry – is that they inadvertently get passed on to the child. Ergo, an angry parent is hardly likely to have a calm child. The positive thing to take from this is that calmness is also equally contagious.

As parents, it's very easy to get angry at your child’s behavior – but this in effect means that we are letting a child play with and control our emotions. However ire-rousing a mistake the child may have committed, as parents, we have to remember that we are the adult in any situation.

Considering the fact that I’m a WAHM of two little boys (they will be turning 6 and 4 this month), the fact that I run a company along with my husband, and am also the homemaker of my rather spacious hillside bungalow – I have plenty of temper struggles as a parent, some of which I win while some I ignominiously lose! But parenting is not a day job; it never ends and it keeps teaching you every day, as do your kids – here’s what I have learned when it comes to temper control as a parent. 

Keep Your Child’s Baby Pics At Hand

It’s easy enough to forget how little your children are, and basically how dependent they are on you for love, self-confidence and self-esteem, amongst other tangible things. Every time you feel you are about to blow, pause and look at that baby picture of your infant. Remember all the promises you made to that helpless mewling baby of yours, the rush of affection you felt when you first held him. Remember all those good intentions? Well, now’s the time to hang on to them tight, for you may be chipping away at your child’s esteem and confidence by displaying your temper. Nothing good comes out of an angry mouth – remember your child is still first and foremost a child.

Set Disciplinary Goals

Children can and will make mistakes, and repeat them to infinity, or so it may seem. Instead of seeing red in all that they do, set some ground rules. If it’s their grubbiness that irks you the most, set aside 10 minutes of their time when they simply have to clean up. Write down the five things that make you the most angry – and make rules about them – but remember to be fair. If they do make a mess of their room, they have to clean up – supervise, but do not criticize – they are learning to do things right.  If the children do not abide by the rules, make a disciplinary rule of three strikes and you’re out. Take away their TV time, ground them for an hour, or even make them sit in the corner for 10 minutes. Being angry with them will not solve the issue – become a part of the solution instead of just adding on to the problem.

Be Realistic In Your Goals & Expectations

You cannot go from Angry Bird parenting to utter Zen-like calm instantly. It’s not going to happen. Ever! It’s also completely unrealistic to put the blame on the child. The child is learning, growing, adapting – he will, most certainly, push your buttons. All at once, and with precise repetition.

One very big parenting secret is to not let the child realize that he’s managed to push your buttons -- else your child will keep trying his hand at this new found parental remote till you are ready to explode. Make a commitment to yourself – that you will not express your anger with or to your child in negative, harmful and rageful ways. Of course, you will be angry with your child. Children make mistakes, many a times deliberately too, but that does not mean they should be raged at. Discipline them, yes, but do not let your brand of discipline turn into mental or physical trauma or worse, abuse.

Prepare Ahead For High-Anxiety Times

A lot of the times when we are angry with the kids, it’s our inner impatience leaking out. Kids are slow at chores, they get distracted easily and tend to live in their own la-la land of imagination. My elder son loves to pretend that he’s Iron Man, and so the change out of his school clothes turns into an armor-removing exercise. What should take 5 minutes, takes 20. Around that time, about 4:30 in the evening, it’s also snack time for them, walk time for the dog, tea time for everyone, gardening time for my help and coffee time for me. The result: my frazzled nerves cannot take the whooshes and whoa that accompany each excruciatingly slow removal of clothes. I yell, he cries. Facepalm.

So now, the dog goes first and then it’s snack time for the kids. While they eat, it’s tea and coffee time for the others. While the kids wash up, I tell the gardener what to do. Then I go help my Iron Man remove his heavy armor and get into normal, Tony Stark-like clothes! All without losing it. Mostly!

Keep In Mind, Your Future Relationship

As parents, we have to lead by example – we are raising future parents ourselves. The onus lies with us to nip bad parenting in the bud.

One great way to cool down that parental rage is to envisage what your relationship with your child might be 20 years down the road. Would you not want to be able to look your happy child, now an adult, in the eye and be glad that you were able to raise a satisfied and joyful individual? Or would you rather have a grown-up stranger who dislikes you and has behavioral problems of his own?

I may be painting a grim picture, but remember– behind every problem child, more often than not, are problem parents. We are human, we err, but when we repeatedly err as parents, it’s the child who suffers… So chin up -- parenting is no cakewalk. It may be a thin line to walk on, but let’s make it a joyful one. The time you have with your kids will never be back. Like all parents, I too have never realized when my tiny little firstborn became a strapping boy of six. Time flies, so let’s make it soar with joy!

Do you have any temper-control tips to share with us? Please do so in the comments section below… Happy parenting!