Every parent gets to the point where they say "That's it, I'm done." The screaming, the yelling, the biting, the pushing, the questions, the tantrums, the crying, the whining, AGHHHHHH, Calgon take me away.
Maybe you are having another one of those, send them to time out, sit on the naughty step, you're grounded, no video games, go to your room, think about what you've done and don't come out until you are sorry moments.
During these times we know our kids struggling, we know they aren't being bad just to be bad, we know they are hurting. We want to be there to support and care for them, to tell them it will be okay, to show our love and to fix the problem. But at this moment as we are on the brink of our own tantrum when it's all gotten too much that we just want to scream when we actually feel our hair turning gray, this is NOT the time to solve anything.
This is the time to take a break. Everyone just needs to calm down and breathe. Here are some things you can try.
Everyone go to your corners:
Create a cool-down space with your child. Find a corner, a chair, a bed, any space that they can call their own. Let them name it, decorate it, fill it with things they want to have during times of stress and chaos. Maybe include a blanket, book, games, or toys. It's a cool-down space, not a punishment place. When it's all going terribly wrong, you can ask if they want to cool down, go to their space and relax? No punishment, just respect and support. Let them know that it's okay to relax, breathe and compose themselves before dealing with a situation.
Maybe organize a cool-down space for yourself as well. What would you include in your cool-down space? Modeling the behavior you want them to have sends a powerful positive message. Remember what we talked about last time, what are you teaching them? Once everyone is in a better place, you can solve the problem together.
Ask for help:
How do you feel when someone asks you for help, not the help me move kind of help, but the support me in succeeding kind of help. You feel pretty good right? Well, kids get the same feelings when we ask them for help. In this case, when the stress is high, ask for a hug. While touch may not be everyone's love language, asking, NOT offering, a hug to a child that is struggling is a great way to trick them into getting one, and sometimes that's all they need. Hugging offers a break from the stress, taking a moment to breathe together helps everyone to feel more relaxed. It also helps them feel needed, worthy and special, and who doesn't like to feel that way. I still use this on my teenagers, and it works every time, well almost. Again, when the stress is gone, you can deal with the issue at hand in a calmer way.
A new way to breathe:
So here's a little trick I picked up along the way, bubbles. Who doesn't love bubbles? Did you know that it's difficult to blow bubbles when you're stressed? The quick breaths, the erratic pace, and the strong force of breath all make it hard to blow bubbles. To compensate, the act of trying to blow bubbles can help to regulate your breath, calms you down, forces you to slow down, and gives the extra added benefit of having bubbles. And really, who doesn't like bubbles? When the bubbles are all popped you can then address the situation, if you can remember what it was.
So, when it all hits the fan, find a mop, get the Lysol, clean the walls, the floors and maybe even the ceiling. But don't worry, with a little time and energy, space and breath, love, caring and bubbles everything will be back to normal in no time and you won't even remember the mess.
Ref and thanks to Positive Discipline, by Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott