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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Learning To Keep Your Cool While Dealing With Your Little One


“She just won’t listen to me anymore. Its like she does it on purpose to get me all angry.”

“And just when I thought he was ready and I would send him off to school on time, he decided he wanted another dip and taking off his uniform, went and stood under the shower! How can I be expected to keep smiling then?”

Just another page from the diary of a harried parent, isn’t it? All these situations would look familiar to most of us parents. Just when you thought you had the perfect cherub at home, all smiling and sweet, and just when the world seemed perfect, out came the crying and the shrieking and the not-listening phase, followed by anger, shouting, screaming, threatening, tears………and a huge burden of guilt.

All of us mothers have these moments some time or the other. We all lose it sometime, no matter how many articles we might read that talk about ways to maintain our cool. But it does not always work like that. As loving as we are, well, lets admit it, we sometimes do lose our cool and shout or scold our kids.

We cannot stop that. And always being only smiling and sweet and understanding is also not normal.

Articles and books and all that parenting forum thing is fine, but when it comes to live parenting, each parent and child have their own special relationship and understanding. While it is okay to get tips and advice from others on many issues, sometimes, you just need to work on your own intuition and according to the kind of relationship you share with your little one.

Of course it is humanly not possible to do away with anger altogether. As long as it is not affecting your relationship with your child and making them live in fear of you, some signs of showing your displeasure and letting them know you are not okay with it, are fine. Too much shouting and scolding is bad for your child, so that is something we consciously need to work upon. But there are many other ways by which we can give vent to our anger and displeasure and let our little one know that what they are doing is not acceptable. And we all tend to make it up to them by our love and affection, and the treats and extra attention that follow most of these anger bouts.

It is never easy to keep that smile on 24*7, especially when you are a parent to a growing little bundle, that tiny tot who is becoming a toddler and growing into an individual right in front of your eyes. Tantrums and tears are a part of the growing up process, as is losing your cool sometimes a natural part of being a parent.

Here are a few things that help me when I begin to lose my cool. Sharing them so that it might help you in moments when you know there is no other way than you losing your cool:

Take a moment before you react. Your little one is there, right in front of you, doing exactly what you told him not to, and you know you are just about to blow it off. Wait. Don’t react instantly. Take a minute to cool it down. Sometimes, if you shout or react the moment you feel the anger, chances are you will be more aggressive and loud in your behaviour. Giving it a minute will lessen the effect and the worst part of your anger will probably pass off.

Breathe. It always helps when your blood is on the boil. Breathe in, breathe out. Do it till the count of 10, or if it is too much right then, count till 20.

Tell yourself you won’t be angry. Repeat “Its okay, I am not going to shout now, I can deal with this.”

Smile to yourself. Smile and tell yourself that all will be okay, that you will not lose it.

Understand if what your little one has done is actually something you should be angry about. Maybe your little one decided to create a masterpiece on the wall, maybe they tried to play mommy and mix cereal and milk, spilling all that on the floor, maybe they wanted to clean up the house and ended up sweeping even your clothes with that dirty broom. These are not things you should scream at them for. Appreciate their effort and guide them in the right direction, rather than scolding them now and making them lose their confidence.

Too much anger is bad for your little one as well as for you. Try using your eyes and expressions to convey to your little one that you are angry. Sometimes, looking at your child with that stern look is enough to let them know you are upset. We feel our toddlers are too young to understand, but most often than not, they are much more capable of understanding these expressions. Try it, it works better than shouting.

Take the help of a partner when it is absolutely out of control. Tell your partner to fill in for you, so that you can cool it off while someone else handles the baby.

A little rest and good sleep will keep you refreshed and let you handle things better.
Sometimes, lack of sleep in a parent can be cause for irritation and lead to frequent spells of anger.

If all else fails and you still feel you are losing your cool too much with your little one, maybe you should talk to your doctor about it. Excessive shouting and display of anger is bad for your baby. If you are constantly doing the same, it is advisable to seek the help of a professional.
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