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What do I do if I lost it with my kids

Have you ever lost it with your kids and it felt like it came from nowhere?

I remember a time when I served up supper and one of my children said 'I hate chicken, it’s disgusting why do you give us that?'.

Ok, an annoying comment when you've spent time making a meal but boy my reaction was way over the top.

I shouted 'You are so ungrateful. Right that's it I'm NEVER making a meal for you again. All you EVER do is complain. You can make your own food and see if I care' as I slammed my hand down on the table. Their mouths dropped and one of them shouted back 'Well I do hate chicken and I'm not eating it!' Another started to cry.

Oh dear.

That wasn't how I meant to react - and I'm supposed to be a model example to other parents. So here are five top things I've learnt to avoid outbursts and have more harmony at home.

  1. If we’ve reached the point of an out burst then it is almost always because we have other stresses (often unrelated to our children) that are bubbling away in the background and something they do or say tips us over the edge.  At this point we need to take a look at what is going on and see if there are a few small things we can do to manage the stress levels.
  2. Avoid using the words ALWAYS, EVER and NEVER as in ‘you NEVER help’, ‘you two are ALWAYS complaining’, ‘All I EVER do is tidy up after you’.  Replace with ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’. Always, ever and never box us or our children and don’t allow room for change.
  3. Own your own feelings – ‘I feel frustrated that you don’t like the chicken’ Rather than ‘You are so rude and ungrateful’.  You can say something like ‘I made it because I thought you did like it/that was all I had in the fridge/it’s important to get protein.’  You can follow it up by ‘I’m also feeling grumpy today because of other things going on. Nothing to do with you but because I’m grumpy, it makes me extra sad to hear you don’t like the chicken’.  
  4. Don’t link one frustration to another – as tempting as it is. So for example if they’ve complained about the chicken don’t add in ‘and you wouldn’t tidy your toys today and you didn’t come to the table when I asked you. You are so disrespectful’. Just deal with one thing at a time.
  5. Give yourself a time out. Make sure the kids are safe and go into another room or into the bathroom to do some deep breathing. This can make a big difference.

So how did I come back from the brink after my outburst?

I walked away and did some breathing.  I came back an apologised ‘I’m sorry I shouted. I don’t like it when I shout. I’ve got a lot of things on my mind and I felt upset when you complained about the chicken.  That’s all we have today but would you like to make a request for tomorrow?’

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