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Curbing Temper in the Face of Child’s Misbehavior

Question:

I have two creative and energetic boys, ages 3 and 6. I know that boys are more rambunctious than girls, but sometimes I lose my temper when I try to settle them down. Occasionally, I will remain calm and successfully quell the situation. I feel badly when I lose my temper. Both my wife and I work, so we feel our evenings should be dedicated to the boys. I would like some tips to help me settle down before I get angry. 

Answer:

Staying calm is one of the biggest challenges parents can face. Here are four steps that will help you maintain control of your emotions when your children start to push your buttons. 

1. Identify what your children say and do that makes you angry. When  you are at the grocery store, for instance, what is it that your kids do that wears on your nerves? Do they stand on the cart when you tell them not to? Are they running ahead of you? Write down a list of their aggravating behaviors.

2. Recognize the signs (how you feel and what you do) that indicate you are getting upset. How do you feel right before the yelling begins? Does your heart race? Do you clench your fists? Write down these signs.

3. Decide what you could do differently in order to stay calm in the future.  Some parents count to 10; some focus on breathing techniques; some give themselves five minutes to calm down before addressing their kids; some rinse their faces with water, etc. Write down a couple of tricks that might work for you.

4. Make a “staying calm plan” that will work for you. Plug all your data from the above into the plan. It will probably look like this:
“The next time my kids (insert kids’ problem behaviors), and I start to (insert the early warning signals), I will (insert what I do to stay calm.)”

So, it could be something like, “The next time my kids start yelling at the grocery store and I start to notice my pulse speed up, I will pause and count to 10.”  Make as many different plans as you need. Adjust them as often as you’d like.
 

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