Do you remember the commercial many years ago for deodorant? The motto was “never let them see you sweat.” Up until recently that was my advice to parents. Even if you are ready to pull your hair out, don’t let your kids see it. That’s not bad advice, but it is not great advice either. The best advice is not to sweat it at all. Keep your cool.
What I generally see and hear are stories of parents who “lose it” with their kids and justify it that their kids pushed them to the limit. “He made me so mad” they wail. Well if parents can be pushed to that point, doesn’t it make sense that kids are pushed to that point to? Will we listen to their justifications that “Amy made me so mad that I had to hit her?” That’s the way kids think. If we want our kids to respond intellectually and emotionally in more socially acceptable or more effective ways, then we have to act that way to.
This is not easy to do in a society that reacts instantly to almost everything. Video games keep our reaction times well-honed. So does the breakneck speed of living and instant access to almost anything. Parenting is not an instant activity. From conception, there needs to be a plan. What are you going to teach? How are you going to teach it? How are you going to handle it when your children misbehave?” (Please don’t kid yourself that they won’t).
Most often parents lose their cool when they feel their authority is being challenged, when their own lives have them overwhelmed, or when their plans fell apart because it wasn’t based on realistic expectations. Once again we are faced with the reality that parents have to take care of their own issues in order to be effective with their children.
If you can’t yet claim that you can easily ride the tides of parenting – at the very least – control your behavior. Keep your cool!