Remaining a poised parent can feel as likely as finding the fountain of youth, Atlantis and El Dorado in your backyard. Calm, cool and collected? Try insane, hot-tempered and screaming.
Bad news: you’re never going to be the perfect parent. No one is! A perfect parent doesn’t exist.
Good news: you can work to build your parenting poise until you no longer feel like a screaming, scary mess. Use these seven tips as a jumping-off point on your journey to parenting poise:
When our kids act out or misbehave in public, we take that as a reflection on our parenting. Embarrassed, we assume that everyone is judging us.
Embarrassment makes it all too easy to panic: to offer bribes, to give in, to do anything we can to pacify our kids and maintain a facade of control.
This is one of the hardest lessons to learn as a parent: stop worrying about what others think. When your child acts out, put on your blinders. Commit to ignoring any audience you might have and calmly handle the issue just as you would at home.
You know that thing your kids do? You know the one. That obnoxious, naughty thing that always makes you stop what you’re doing to deal with them?
There are things kids do just to get attention or to get a rise out of you. That’s why, if they’re not causing harm (to themselves, others or property), it may be best to ignore it. If it doesn’t get a reaction from you, it will stop being fun for them. And, in the meantime, they get to look like the crazy one while you calmly ignore them.
My high school music teacher always said: “practice the way you want to perform, perform the way you practiced.”
Decide how to phrase your no’s, what consequences will follow their misbehaviors and what your tone and volume will be.
Then, get in front of a mirror and practice. Work on your tone, volume and go-to parenting answers until they’re second nature. Sure, you may feel like a doof, but when you need to use them, it’ll be just like riding a bike.
Breathe In, Breathe Out
Did you know that three out of four doctor’s visits are for stress-related ailments? Stress can cause sleep loss, strokes and increase the risk of heart disease. If parenting duties are stressing you out, you may have more than your poise to worry about.
It’s important to develop your own bag-of-tricks when it comes to destressing. Stress balls, breathing exercises and inconspicuous yoga moves offer a quick release no matter where you are.
You can also lower your stress by choosing to stress about less. It’s all about managing your expectations.
You can’t expect perfection. Not from yourself and certainly not from kids. Young children in particular (toddlers, for example) have tantrums or behave badly because they don’t know any better. They haven’t learned the right thing to do and don’t know how to constructively express their emotions. Hence: bad behavior and tantrums.
And sometimes, just like adults, kids are just naughty, mean or defiant.
As a parent, it’s our job to teach proper behavior and healthy emotional expression. That job gets a lot easier when you accept that bad behavior will happen, instead of expecting children to be perfect on the first try.
Parenting myth: you have to react the second your child misbehaves.
That’s not just false — it’s folly. There will be times your kids make you so angry or scared you could spit. Do you really want to react out of that anger?
Give yourself permission to take a timeout when your emotions get too hot. Count to ten or repeat a calming mantra. Take a walk or give yourself a quiet moment in another room.
Not only will this help you calm down and process your emotions before attending to the problem, but it will also model healthy behavior for your kids.
Kids act out when they’re tired, hungry or overstimulated. So doesn’t it stand to reason that those items can affect adults, too?
It’s hard to stay calm and in-control if you’re constantly sleep-deprived, making unhealthy food choices and overcommitting yourself.
Sometimes, the simplest solutions see the most results. Set an earlier bedtime for yourself, keep healthy snacks prepped and don’t forget the power of some “me” time, even if it’s just 15 minutes each day.
Bonus tip: cut other parents a break. Tired of feeling judged? Stop judging others. Comparisons are odious. Focus on parenting to the rest of your ability and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. I promise you’ll feel better if you do.
7 Tips for Remaining a Poised Parent (Even When You Want to Scream)