I cherish the time I spend with my children, especially my older son. During the school year, he spends the majority of his waking hours at school with another adult and other children. So, our time together is all the more special. During the summer, though, when we’re together ALL THE TIME, we have to adjust. Oftentimes I find myself on the short end of the temper-stick. Here are some things I do to keep my cool during the heat of the summer:
- Count down from 10 – this is probably my most effective method of keeping calm. I usually count down in my head, although the few times I have done it out loud, my kids are amazingly well-behaved by the time I get close to one. It simply gives me a few seconds to refocus and remember to keep my cool.
- Give myself a time out – when I can feel the tension or anger building up, I tell my children, “Mommy’s feeling (angry, upset, hurt, mad, etc), so I’m going to cool down with a time-out.” With my younger child, I’ll simply move to a quiet area of the room. With my older child, though, I may leave to go to a different room or ask that he find a different place to wait for me while I cool off. The key is, though, to talk about whatever it was that made me angry or upset to begin with. Simply removing myself and cooling off isn’t enough. Children need to understand the process of discussion and understanding.
- Opposites – this is quite possibly the most effective tool I’ve used with my younger child. When I am feeling angry or upset and the urge to yell is overwhelming, I whisper. My son is completely caught off-guard and will stop whatever it is he is doing to figure out why Mommy is suddenly quiet! And, it calms myself down to talk in a quiet voice instead of yelling.
There are other ways to vent anger that are productive. Listen to some music, take a walk or get some exercise another way, keep a journal of your feelings, call a friend or even cleaning the house are great ways to channel aggessive energy into something productive. The key is, though, to discuss your feelings and the way you handled them with your child after you have calmed down. Children learn by example, so set a good one for them.