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One thing I’ve learned in parenting is that yelling is not effective. Yelling at my children creates fear and sends them into fight-or-flight mode. However, staying calm and not yelling when you walk into your daughter’s room after she’s poured lotion all over the carpet can be very difficult! Or when she’s flushed a hand towel down the toilet and Roto-Rooter has to be called to unclog the toilet. Or when she throws the iPad across the room and breaks the screen. So what do I do instead of yelling? I turn around, walk back out of the room and take a deep breath… and make my husband deal with it! Just kidding… usually (it really depends on who is the calmest at the time!). We definitely have to be a team and take turns because parenting is hard.
Staying calm is hard! So instead of yelling, what do I do? I take a deep breath (or ten), repeat a mantra to help myself get/stay calm and parent through connection. Connected parenting doesn’t ignore that the situation is difficult, but it leans into the difficulty and sees it as an opportunity to connect. Sometimes it may take additional trips out of the room, frequent deep breaths, and repeating the mantra over and over again. It helps to have a list of mantras to help keep me calm in the heat of the moment!
Here are some mantras for staying calm:
Once I’m calm I have to help my child regulate her emotions because she doesn’t yet have the tools to calm herself down. It can be difficult to find the right thing to say to your child when she’s upset. It’s important to practice connected parenting to not make fears worse, all while offering reassurance and support. I have found that arming myself with key connecting phrases to use in the moment helps me be consistent and able to provide a connection in tough situations. Rather than telling my child that they’ll be fine or they don’t have anything to worry about, I try to use some of the phrases below to connect and help them through their struggle.
Here are some phrases for parents to use to help their child calm down:
We would like to protect our children from becoming upset, but it’s inevitable that at some point they will get hurt, they will have fears, they will feel sad or angry and when they do, it’s important for them to have tools to self-regulate and deal with the tough emotions. Every child is different and not all of these phrases will work with your kids. If one phrase doesn’t work, try something else. It’s important that even when it’s difficult, you stay engaged, and practice connected parenting. Eventually you’ll learn what works best for your child. Every child will need help calming down at some point, however if your child frequently struggles with anxiety or tough emotions, consider seeing a therapist who is trained to help.
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