How To Keep Your Cool As A Parent
Is parenting taking a toll on you? Do you end up losing your composure and self-control every now and then? Here are a few tips to help you keep your 'cool' as a parent.
By Shashwathi Sandeep
Parents sometimes cut the figure of a warrior fighting on many fronts at the same time. On a daily basis, you end up dealing with temper tantrums, unacceptable behaviour, health issues, household responsibilities, challenges at the workplace and more.
With so much to take care of, some parents tend to lose their cool. According to Akanksha Pandey, Consultant, Clinical Psychology, Fortis Hospital, Bangalore, “Parents lose their cool most commonly when they are not properly equipped to deal with certain parenting issues. It makes parents feel that they are a failure, inept, or a bad parent.”
Occasionally, it is natural for parents to feel annoyed and react in anger against their child; however, if parents lose their temper often, it can affect a child in many adverse ways. Research has shown that children of angry parents:
- are usually aggressive and non-compliant, less empathetic and suffer from adjustment issues
- show higher levels of delinquency
- are prone to depression, social alienation, and spousal abuse
With parental anger being so detrimental to a child, as a parent, it is important for you to stay calm even during the most demanding times. Here are a few tips to help you always stay in control and not lose your cool:
1. Seek support: Sometimes, you may feel overburdened and overwhelmed by household and professional responsibilities. During such stressful times, even things that you would normally brush off may make you feel upset. You can end up crying or yelling at your partner or child. However, seeking support from your spouse and family members can help lighten your burden and make you feel in control again.
- What you should do: First, analyse the areas where you need support and when. Next, figure out who can help you in these situations. For example, your spouse can help you with household chores while your extended family can pitch in with taking care of your little one. Then, communicate your need and seek support.
2. Take short breaks: Working without a break is physically and mentally demanding and exhausting. It can make you prone to losing your temper. Therefore, it is important for you to take time-outs to de-stress, maintain a better work-life balance and increase productivity. Other benefits of taking short breaks include less fatigue and irritability. So, make it a point to schedule regular me-time for yourself.
- What you should do: Engage in some simple activities that make you feel relaxed and refreshed. For example, calling up your friend to chat for a while, reading a book with your child, listening to music or, tending to your kitchen garden.
3. Manage your expectations: A lot of times, having unrealistic or very high expectations can be the cause for disappointment. It can make you feel anxious and prevent you from enjoying the experience. Always try keep in mind what the great Greek poet Archilochus said, "We don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training."
- What you should do: Instead of thinking too much about future outcomes, focus on the present. When you set goals, also make sure that you plan, prepare and work your way towards them instead of expecting things to happen. Review your actions and reset your plans if things don't seem to work.
4. Plan ahead: The lack of a daily plan can lead to bad decision-making. This can create chaos and confusion, leaving you exasperated and angry. Developing a fixed daily routine will help bring consistency in your life. It will make you feel comfortable and sure of yourself.
- What you should do: Make a list of what you need to do every day and the order in which you should do them. Think of the possible problems that may arise in certain situations and come up with plans to tackle them – for example, what would you do if your child behaves in an unruly manner in the park, or feels sick while you are in the midst of a long drive.
5. Develop better communication skills: Poor communication skills can prevent you from reaching out and connecting with others. It can also cause misunderstanding and conflict. Learning to communicate well can help you establish better relationships with everyone, including your child.
- What you should do: Before you begin talking, ensure that there are minimal distractions – for example, the TV is switched off and the phone is kept away. Pay close attention to the words you choose to convey your thoughts and the tone of your voice. Treat those you are talking to with respect and don't make assumptions. Also, make it a point to listen to what others have to say.
6. Practise calming techniques: Your little one’s temper tantrums, irrational demands and naughty ways can sometimes drive you to despair. You can feel so irritated that you may end up reacting in anger, which can further worsen the situation. Using calming techniques can help you stay in control and deal with any crisis with a positive frame of mind.
- What you should do: Whenever you feel that a crisis is wearing you down, stop and take a few deep breaths. If that doesn't work, leave the spot and return after you feel calm and focused. You can also talk to your spouse or someone else to let out the pent-up feelings.
It is a Herculean task to stay calm and deal with the challenges that come our way. But, it is also possible to be a cool parent if we follow the tips mentioned above.
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