One of the things that I find most difficult about being a parent is controlling my frustrations with my kids. I consider myself a patient person but when it comes to having children it feels like I need a whole new reservoir of tranquility. My restraint runs out, I snap, I get cross with my kids. Pandemonium breaks out.
Recently I’ve been trying a new method to regain my composure that works a treat.
Take yesterday for example. I was sitting listening to Dante reading Pip and Posy. He turned the page, Pip falls over. “Arrrhhhhhh” he screamed, improvising some dramatic sound effects.
I waited patiently for him to finish screaming.
Apparently I was supposed to do something else.
Unprovoked, he turned around and elbowed me.
He elbowed me with his bony hard elbows.
He elbowed me in that soft flabby bit where it hurts.
I am constantly being elbowed, or head butted, or “bushed” as I say. Mostly it’s by accident. Sometimes not. Either way, it still smarts.
This time, I could feel myself start to slide. It’s just like little straws being piled up. I can cope with one, I can cope with another. I keep coping until suddenly there is one straw too many and the whole pile comes tumbling down.
I can no longer control my anger.
When I was younger, my dad always used to tell me to take deep breaths, to count slowly to 10 and to take some deep breathes to calm down. Of course I didn’t listen to him. It is only now that I face the frustrations of parenthood on a daily basis that I recall his words.
I know I am about to bark at my son. I know my body is getting ready to shout at him. Perhaps not even shout, but speak sharply.
I know that life is so much easier when I don’t loose my temper. When I stay calm, I can help my children rather than make the whole situation worse.
If I snap and shout at him, it’s like pouring paraffin onto a bonfire. Things just go from bad to disaster. He’ll start to cry. I’ll get crosser. They’ll be stomps and huffs. The reading will be abandoned.
We’ll be angry and cross at each other.
I don’t like angry and cross.
An Easy Solution
I know that I want some time to cool down, to gather myself, to get rid of the emotion.
But you know what? Life is busy. I have 4 kids. I can’t just run to my bedroom for half an hour. As much as I’d like to.
Instead, I try a “mini meditation”. I stop focusing on what made me cross and I look inside. A bit like distraction for grown ups.
I close my eyes.
I concentrate on my breathing. I breathe slowly and carefully.
Big deep breaths.
In and Out.
In and Out.
Innnnn and Ouuuuuut.
Slowly, slowly, I fill my lungs so that my ribs expand.
Only for a few seconds.
Just like my dad told me all those years ago.
I feel the spark of anger subsiding.
The moment has passed.
I open my eyes and return to the reading.
And that’s it. There isn’t any more to tell, unless you want to know about how Pip and Posy argued over a scooter.
It’s so easy to do.
Controlling Your Triggers
To control your temper, you do need to recognise your triggers. What makes you angry and frustrated? Can you tell when your body is gearing up wrestle an angry bear? Can you find a way to act before it’s too late?
Instead of fighting the bear. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing instead of yelling at your frustrating kids.
Life Without Yelling
Yesterday I was sitting on the couch, Dante was reading to me. In his enthusiasm, he elbowed me in the ribs. I got cross but I let it pass. I closed my eyes and took some deep breathes. I opened my eyes and carried on as if nothing had ever happened.
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