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When was the last time that your kids drove you so nuts that you lost (or almost lost) your shit on them?

We’re human. It happens.

So why do you get so mad? I’ll bet that most of the time it’s because your kids aren’t doing what you want them to do when you ask them to do it. Is that right?

Sometimes you’re more patient, and other times you just snap.

Let’s talk about some of the reasons why you snap and what needs to change to address it …

You’re exhausted or “running on empty.”

Woman in blue tank top lying on hammock

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

“I haven’t had enough sleep or enough time to recharge. I’m maxed out. I just need One.Minute.To.Myself.”

Remember that everything everyone does is an attempt to get a need met (including you).

What would have to change:

  • Make sure you take care of yourself proactively. Are you getting enough sleep? nourishment? time with friends? Try these self-care ideas.
  • When you notice yourself feeling impatient, take time to do something for yourself—take a walk, eat something, etc. If you’re alone with the kids, assess your impatience and decide if it might be best for everyone to let them watch a TV show or put them in a safe play area while you give yourself a timeout.

You watch their current behavior and futurize.

“He’s being so disrespectful. If I don’t stop this behavior right now, he’s never going to have any friends. And he’s such a slob that no girl will ever want to marry him. And did I mention my daughter? All she does is text her friends. She’s so distracted that there is no way she will ever get good enough grades to get into an Ivy League college. I need to intervene…RIGHT NOW.”

What would have to change:

  • Stop creating scary thoughts about what “might” happen to your child based on their current behavior.
  • Stop believing that if you worry and “futurize” you’ll prevent these things from happening. It’s simply not true.
  • Listen for what is true. Perhaps your fear is telling you that you need to take some action, but it’s time to get calm and talk it over with someone who can help you create an action plan that’s not based in fear.

Let’s use the daughter who texts all the time. Perhaps there’s a message in this “worry.” After you calm down from the scary thought of her never getting into a good college, you can begin to get curious about what changes might need to happen. Maybe it’s a good Ivy Leaguetime to sit down with your daughter and ask her what her goals are. Perhaps once she identifies her goals, she might be able to create an action plan to achieve them. Let’s say getting into an Ivy League school is HER goal, her action plan might include limiting her time on her iPhone and increasing her time studying. And the beauty is that when you take the fear out of it, your daughter gets a chance to set her own goals and feel empowered. Caveat: if her goals do NOT include Ivy League college, it’s time to let go of your vision for her and allow her to follow her own path.

You believe that when you lose it, your kids did it TO you … they pushed you.

“I asked them 5 times to pick up their coats off the floor. If they had come to dinner when I called them, I wouldn’t have lost it.”

. . . It’s frustrating isn’t it?

What would have to change:

  • Admit that you’re responsible for your reactions. How your kids act is one thing. How you react is totally within your control. Learn to manage your emotions and reactions.
  • Set the intention to find the nanosecond between your kid’s behavior and your reaction.
  • Become aware of your patterns as it relates to you losing your cool:
    • Which of your child’s behaviors gets under your skin?
  • Examine why these behaviors upset you so much. Does this bring something up from the past? Are you worried about them in the future? Do you feel unheard?
  • When he/she acts that way, how do you feel? What do you need? How can you take care of yourself in that moment?
  • Set limits before you get angry – if you notice yourself getting impatient or irritable, check in and ask yourself what you want to be different. Take a moment to clearly state what you need before you “lose it.”
  • Practice this: stop, pause, and think before responding—always.

 

You’re feeling time pressure.

 

pocket watch, time, hour

Photo by Free-Photos on Pixabay

“It’s time to leave and one kid can’t find his shoe, the other kid hasn’t packed her backpack up, and the dog just came in with muddy paws. I can’t deal with this! We’re going to be late … doesn’t anyone else care?”

We’re all busy and multitasking has become a badge. Getting out the door in the morning, moving from activity to activity is hectic.

What would have to change:

  • Add more time buffers.
  • Do less.
  • Be okay with being late.
  • Plan ahead of time.

 

When you’re anxious or stressed, you begin to control.

“I just got home, the kitchen’s a mess, and the kids are lying around watching TV. I’ve got to get dinner on the table and clean up a little, dammit, no one else does anything around here. No one cleans up, I have to make dinner every night! — ‘Kids, get in here and put your dishes away. Can’t you see how messy it is? Did you do you homework? Get your homework done before dinner. Come on … why didn’t you feed the dog? No more iPhones tonight — I’m sick of this….’” And what do our kids think of this? Well, no one likes to be controlled and barked at, so they dig their heels in and the power struggle begins.

What would have to change:

  • Understand that when we feel anxious, there’s a natural tendency to try to control our surroundings (aka our kids) because it makes us feel calmer when people act in ways that fit our needs.
  • Remember that our kids have their own agenda, opinions, feelings, and needs.
  • Your kids aren’t mind readers – if you you want or need something, talk to them and explain what’s going on for you.
  • Take a timeout and focus on calming yourself down.
  • If you’re like most parents, you expect too much of yourself and then feel self-critical when you are imperfect. Be compassionate and cut yourself slack.

When you mess up, own it and figure out how to repair trust rather than beat yourself up.

Whether you tend to yell, criticize, shame, blame, roll your eyes, groan, or react in other less than emotionally mature ways, there is a pathway to more patience.

Read more expanded views on Parenting.

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