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My top five tips for staying calm

Most parents who come to see me say that they wish they could stay more calm and that when they do they feel like a better parent. So here are my top five tips:

  1. Prepare ahead of time. So often we lose it or feel anxious because we are doing everything at last minute. Think about your pressure points. Could you avoid some of them with better preparation?
  2. Off load some of your to-do list. Is it all vital? Could you delegate some of it and give yourself some more time? Could you get your children doing more while you do less?
  3. Use humour. Some of the things our children do are actually really funny but we take it all so seriously we fail to realise that we are missing the chance for a laugh. 
  4. Breathe and or walk away. This is so helpful. We get a few moments to compose ourselves. 
  5. Metaphorically 'press pause' and ask yourself ‘can I choose a different response here?’ ‘If I lose it what will the knock-on consequences be?’.

From years of experience with my own children and working with parents I know that it is possible to train yourself to take that break between having a knee-jerk negative response to a difficult situation and choosing a more postive response. It really is amazingly helpful.  If your child blows a raspberry at you, says 'shut up' or sticks her fingers in her ears and won't listen, do you need to get really cross and critical or could you breathe, walk away or even put into words how  you feel?  For example in response to 'shut up' you could say 'I don't like being told to shut up, I know you are feeling cross about because you have to go to bed now.  So you can say 'Mummy I don't want to go to bed and I feel cross' (insert whatever it is that you think they are frustrated about). Get your child to try again and use polite words. Ignore the raspberries, change the subject and if they put their fingers in their ears whisper 'which chocolate is your favourite?' - it is amazing how good their hearing is when you talk about something to do with sweets or choclate! When they look up, make a joke - 'Ah ha, you can still hear, now what did I say it is time to do now?'.