Tips to help you keep your cool and respond, rather than react, when your child’s behavior pushes you to the edge.
By Heather Goetsch
Family Support Specialist
Early Head Start
Take a moment to think about how you manage stress and conflict with your children. Do you yell? Do you behave in ways you later regret? Rather than yelling or shouting when a child isn’t listening, you can make a commitment to using a new skill – one that is proven to benefit your child as well.
Picture this: Your child has not been listening to your requests throughout the day. This has led you to raise your voice. You may even punish your child by sending them to their room. In turn, your child is now responding with a full-blown, tear-filled tantrum. Nobody is feeling good about this situation. You’re upset and your child is upset.
Now imagine trying this: After a full day of struggling with your child’s behavior, you feel your fuse shortening. Instead of losing your cool, you choose to follow the strategies of what is known as Conscious Discipline:
Control Yourself First
Remind yourself that the only person you can change is yourself. This is a powerful way of thinking. You cannot control how others around you may respond, but you can choose to control yourself. This is self-control.
Breathing is something we all know how to do, but are we choosing to do it? That is what Conscious Discipline is all about, about committing to the skill. In moments when you feel overwhelmed by your children, try practicing this breathing technique from Conscious Discipline, called STAR.
S– Stop. Commit to pausing here. Pause your response. This pause gives you the chance to think about how to respond rather than react.
T- Take a deep breath. Your inhale should push your stomach out and last about four seconds. Your exhale should bring your stomach in and last about eight seconds.
A – And…
R– Relax. Allow your deep breaths to calm you. Remind yourself, “I am safe,” “I can handle this,” and “keep breathing.”
When you actively choose to use Conscious Discipline, you are not only choosing to regain your composure and self-control, but you are also downloading calm onto your child. You are giving them the skills that they will one day need to self-regulate themselves.
Remember, chaos invites chaos. But calmness, love and composure are also contagious. By choosing self-control and by choosing to breathe, to actively and consciously breathe, you are allowing yourself to find your calm and to share it with your family. Life isn’t always easy, and parenting is challenging. Remember to be kind to yourself and just breathe. For more information about Conscious Discipline and the skills it offers for parents and children, check out the Conscious Discipline website at www.ConsciousDiscipline.com.