Parenting is no easy task. Remember those moments when junior’s shenanigans tested the limits of your patience? When that happens, it can take a superhuman effort to maintain self-control and keep your cool.
Angry parents can lead to unhappy consequences. Singapore has seen a troubling rise in child physical abuse over the past decade, with 660 cases in 2019 alone. It’s a number set to rise even further in 2020 as families were forced to stay home together due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Extreme and abusive reactions aside, anger and harsh words can still take a toll on the day-to-day relationship between parent and child. Learning how to parent calmly is hence essential to maintaining a strong parent-child bond.
The next time the kids act up, try these tips to turn down the heat:
1. Giving (yourself) a time-out
Time-outs are not just for kids alone–adults need them too! When emotions get the better of us, it might be hard to think rationally. Trying to correct our kids when we are still fuming is often a recipe for disaster.
Walk away and find a quiet corner to recollect your sanity. Save that teachable moment for another time when you are composed and calmer.
2. Walk in their shoes
Sometimes we forget that children are not adults. Part of the reason younger children act out is because, unlike adults, they don’t have the tools to express themselves.
Help your little ones recognise their trigger or source of frustration and find the words to explain their emotions. Not only does it build self-awareness, talking through the process lets them feel heard.
3. Try using humour
Humour defuses touchy situations. To ease the tension, try deflecting attention off the topic of disagreement. But avoid sarcasm and sore points in case it makes matters worse.
If your teen is upset that he’s not allowed to stay out late with his friends, don’t moralise. Share with him tales of your own youthful escapades, such as the time when you had to scale the garden wall to avoid grandpa’s wrath.
4. Act, not react
A furious mom or dad can be terrifying, especially for young kids. Hurtful words take a greater personal toll on children who are dependent on their parents for their sense of self. While blowing up might help you vent your frustration, oftentimes it doesn’t resolve the problem.
Nip the problem in the bud before it escalates. If junior is headed for a meltdown because of his siblings’ teasing, it might be a good time to take him out for a short walk or find a fun activity to distract him from the situation.
5. This too shall pass
Parents of older children will understand this. Whether it’s the toddler tantrums or the angsty adolescence phase, kids go through different development stages where they will challenge parental authority. Sometimes, all you need to do is to wait it out.
Got a sulky, uncooperative teen who refuses to join in family activities? Instead of confronting her, it might be better to just let her be. Once the testy teenage years have passed, that sweet-tempered kid you used to know may return, except older and wiser.