Motherhood is crazy. But you already knew that. Last week was a crazy, crazy week for me. I was getting the family back on schedule after a 3 hour time change and “vacation schedule” for 10 days. Plus I had back-to-back calls and daily home visits. With each call and each visit I repeated the same quote: “Say YES to your child’s emotion while you hold the boundary on the behavior.” We can still empathize with our child’s strong emotion without “giving in”. But empathizing with a screaming child take A LOT of self-discipline. How do we not either freak-out and yell or completely shutdown when our kids are losing their minds? Self-talk.
For my family action plans, I even listed out possible mantras for parents to use so they can stay calm while the child works through their big emotions. So here are some of my favorite mantras that I use for myself:
“He is safe. I am safe.”
“This is not an emergency.”
“This too shall pass.”
“He is still learning.”
“He is having a hard time. Not giving me a hard time.”
“He needs my calm.”
“Be the calm.”
“He needs my help, not my anger.”
In the great words of Rebecca Eanes, “Instead of asking: How do I deal with tantrums? or How do I deal with aggression? or “How do I deal with this sleep problem? Ask, “How do I help this little person whom I love? That’s the best starting point for knowing how to help your unique child.”
These mantras are meant to calm your mind. Keep you in the upstairs brain, so your child may slip into the “fight or flight” mode, but there’s at least one fully functioning brain in the room. They are also meant to shift your perspective. If we perceive our children as small people who need to learn, then we are more likely to teach than to punish.
Teaching will strengthen our relationship, corrects the behavior now, and helps our child learn how to handle the situation in the future. Punishment damages our relationship and teaches our child how to avoid punishment.
So pick your mantra. They may change or evolve over time, as parenthood always does. Use it to help you through the crazy. Because parenthood is awesome. And crazy.