We have all been there. None of us is perfect, and we all have days or moments when we lose control and our ‘positive and gentle parenting’ goes out the window.
I have never spanked, hit, pushed… or used any other form of corporal punishment with my daughters. But… I have yelled at them, I have taken their ‘priviledges’ (whatever that means) as a consequence for ‘bad behavior,’ I have even done a couple of time-outs (yes! not time-ins, time-outs). I KNOW none of those actions are right, but in the heat of the moment, on those (rare) occasions when I lose it, for a few seconds, I thought it was fine to do it (but it wasn’t!).
Did they work? No; Did they scare, anger, sadden… my girls? Yes; Do I regret it? Absolutely! And that’s why every day, I work on myself, to better myself as a parent. Because, at the end of the day… when we lose it, it has nothing to do with our children, it has to do with ourselves. It has to do with our lack of ability to cope in a positive, constructive, respectful way in that particular moment. So… to avoid those situations, we shouldn’t try to change our children, but ourselves! Now, that’s another article!
While I know each day is better, and this ‘crazy momma‘ moments are very rare; I also know that they might never completely dissapear. I wish they would, but I’m human, and therefore, imperfect. So, just in case, I lose it again, I make sure I know what to do AFTER the storm, to repair the connection with my daughters, learn and move forward. This is it:
1 – ACKNOWLEDGE
My feelings: “I got really angry with you when you made a huge mess in the bathroom”
My actions: “I yelled at you for it, and that was not nice or respectful”
My intentions: “I was trying to get you to understand that it is not nice to throw all the bath toys, body soap and towels on the batroom floor. I also wanted for you to fix it. But yelling didn’t accomplish any of that, right?”
My child’s feelings: “I scared you very much, didn’t I?”
2 – APOLOGIZE
“I am so sorry for having yelled at you. That wasn’t nice at all. I disrespected you and scared you, and I’m very sorry about it.”
3 – LET THE LOVE FLOW
“I love you very much, regardless of what you do”
My kids tend to hug my by this point, which is tremendously heartwarming, and a lesson on forgiveness. Our children are incredibly forgiving of our mistakes, especially while they’re young.
4 – PROMISE TO IMPROVE
“I promise I will do my very best, every day, to find ways to control my temper, and not to yell at you again. If I ever do it again, please know that I’m having a hard time controlling myself, that it has nothing to do with you, and that it doesn’t mean that I don’t love you”
I don’t promise them I will never do something again, because you can only promise to do your best to change that behavior. I don’t like lying to my kids, and wouldn’t make them a promise that I might break if I lose control.
5 – ASK FOR HELP
“Will you help me avoid yelling again at you? If you ever see me about to yell, or if I start yelling, please remind me that I am a nice mom and that I don’t want to yell because it scares you and makes things worse not better”
6 – THANK AND CONNECT
“Thank you for being so understanding. I love you! What can we do to have some special time together now?”
It can be hugging, reading a book, racing, having a snack… anything that brings back the love and connection with your child. Always connection, before correction! We will deal with the mess later.
7 – DEAL WITH THE ISSUE
Now it’s the time to deal with the issue at hand, the one that drove me crazy to beging with.
“How can we fix this mess together?”
8 – PREVENT
“How can I help you remember not to do this again in the future?”
9 – FORGIVE YOURSELF
This is one of the hardest steps for me, because I know better, because I am a parent coach; and for some reason, even though I know I am not perfect and will never be, in my mind I still require that of myself from time time and I’m pretty hard on myself when I’m not the best I can be.
The last step is figuring out what made me lose it, was I too tired?, was I sleep deprived?, was I stressed about something?… what was it that put me in a state in which I couldn’t control my temper? It was not what my daughters did or didn’t do, that I know, so I always try to figure out what was going on with me, that made me too stressed, too tired, too overwhelmed, too distracted… to control my reactions.
More often than not, I blow up because I’m too tired or because I haven’t had the time to just relax and leave my mind wonder. If that’s the case, I make sure to go to sleep early that night and rest, and to take a bath before that to relax and free my mind.
Do you find yourself losing your temper with your children? What are your strategies to reconnect with your children after you blow up?
Much love, gentle mamas!