Toddlers are adorable and can be utterly sweet, but they are also really good at pushing your buttons. Although you’ve vowed not to lose your temper and create a scene with your little one, it’s hard to stay calm.
Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist from Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, notes that most children are strong, so losing your cool sometimes won’t harm them. However, he adds, “If parents tend to be unpredictable or persistently lose their temper and tend to be verbally punitive or even aggressive, the children may learn and model after these intense emotions, anger and aggressive behaviours.”
The way you respond to your little one could benefit them, too. Dr Lim points out, “Children will model after their parents and learn to react to situations calmly if they are patient and calm, as they’ll feel more safe and reassured.”
Try these methods the next time junior gets on your nerves.
Infographic: Rachel Lim
1. Get some rest
When you’re tired, you’re probably moodier and more likely to lose your temper easily with your child. Taking care of children is already a really tiring task, so it’s important to be fully charged ― otherwise, you’ll naturally be more cranky and not in the best mood to deal with any temper tantrums coming your way.
2. Call a time-out
When you feel the situation spiralling out of hand, call a time-out. Dr Lim notes that a “time-out means time away from the stressful stimuli”. So, halt the conversation temporarily by leaving junior with your spouse ― Dr Lim explains that it “can break escalating anger”.
3. Take slow, deep breaths
Breathing exercises are always helpful ― breathe in, count to three, and breathe out. Sometimes, just taking a small breather can help you calm down (and keep your blood pressure down)! Instead of getting caught in a suffocating back-and-forth argument with your kiddo, it’s probably better to catch a few breaths.
“While anger may sometimes help with motivation, most of the time it is purposeless and harmful.”
4. Keep repeating something comforting to yourself
When you feel worked up and on the verge of an argument with your little one, repeating calming phrases can help you cool off. Tell yourself “I can do this”, or “It’ll pass, as always” ― it may be able to help you calm down or feel better.
5. Be aware of your emotions
Dr Lim advises to “be mindful of your emotions” ― knowing exactly when you begin to get worked up. He suggests that you identify the thoughts (such as “my kid is ungrateful”) and physical sensations (racing heart, flushing, feeling hot) that arise when you get angry, since you can only control your anger when you are aware of what you are feeling.
6. Question the point of being angry
Dr Lim also suggests that you “question the usefulness of your anger”. He explains, “While anger may sometimes help with motivation, most of the time it is purposeless and harmful.” When you’re conscious that angry emotions will impact you both and your relationship negatively should help you cool off.
7. Try to understand what sparked junior’s outburst
When we get angry, it can be hard to see things from our little one’s perspective. However, trying to understand where your kid is coming from and what led to their outburst could help you be more understanding and react better to your child.
8. Try to smile about it
It’s been proven that smiling releases hormones like endorphins (the feel-good hormone). When you get really worked up, try to smile or laugh ― this might turn the situation around temporarily and break the tense atmosphere, so that you can cool down and sort your thoughts out.
9. Set some house rules
Setting some rules ― though don’t overdo it ― helps simplify things when chaos breaks out. You’ll be able to refer back to the rules you’ve made, so that junior can’t offer many excuses and but’s. Because if they’ve broken a rule you’ve already established, there’s nothing left to discuss.
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