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This May Be The Key To Calm Parenting

girl sitting with tablet computer

As Christmas fast approaches, you can be forgiven for losing your temper from time to time. Often times you feel like your kids just don’t care what you say and fail to pay attention to you anymore. 

Believe it or not, this is a common problem felt by most parents, but there are some quick easy fixes you may not have thought of before.

Go Back To Emotional Zero

When problems arise, our first emotional response is to lash out. However, there is a new term called “emotional zero” that makes you look at a child’s negative behaviour, signal to them that “this doesn’t work” and then let everyone take time out from the situation. 

When you come back and are prepared to give the consequences, you actually need to be in a place where you feel neutral

This may mean calling a friend, going into another room to quietly gather your thoughts, yell into your pillow to muffle the sound. Whatever it takes. But, once you are back at emotional zero, that’s the time to give your child the consequences.

Now, one of the easiest systems is to have the consequences ahead of time and make a minor or a major list of things you won’t accept in your house.

For example, some minor things may be:

  • Don’t be disrespectful at the table
  • Switching on a game or TV when they have been told not to
  • Talking back and generally being rude

Major things are more like:

  • Not coming in at a time agreed
  • Your child hitting a sibling (high levels of disrespect)
  • Doing something that puts them in danger

If you know ahead of time what the penalty is, for example, with the minor things they could lose certain privileges like TV time and computer game time and the major things can be being grounded or not being able to talk or visit their friends for a period of time.

Once you know the consequences and everyone is calm, you are then in the position to sit down and explain to your child what they are. 

The old way was to give these consequences with a BIG emotional response, but you often find that kids will move on quickly from this, but us as parents tend to bottle up our frustration. From there this frustration tends to keep building and building.

One of the best things to take away from children is their time. In fact, you can say to them that they “owe you this time back”, but you as a parent get to pick when this is.

We all know our children well and I’m pretty sure you can guess what things they like to do and when they like to do them. 

By strategically removing these and getting “your time back”, you are effectively showing children the consequences of their actions in a calm and collected way, whilst at the same time denying them what they enjoy and want to do most.

Here is one you can try that works really well. If your child has a favourite TV show, you don’t need to take away their privilege of watching, just the first 15 minutes or 30 minutes will do. 

Children hate missing the beginning of a programme because as you can appreciate, it is very hard to follow exactly what is happening in the story or connecting the dots of what happened earlier. This is powerful stuff if you use it on the right things at the right time.

Note: This won’t work that well with older children, but curfews will. If you have teenagers, adding hours rather than daily curfews works better. For example, if they like going out to play football or netball. 

Spreading the consequences out over the week for those specific events will really show them that you mean business and is much more effective than simply lashing out and giving them an unrelated curfew. 

By being strategic and choosing specific events that they like, gives you the upper hand and means the consequence means much more than random ones.

Deciding these consequences ahead of time will eliminate a lot of conflicts and you will find that you will lose your temper a lot less and won’t feel as bad once the consequences have been given.

Kids Are Different

There isn’t really a one size fits all here. As you know, all kids are different. However, there are a few other things you could try like:

10, 10,10 Strategy

Where you think about what’s going to happen in 10 seconds, 10 minutes or 10 hours if you react the way you do.

When you break down your decision making in this way, you immediately start to question what the appropriate actions you should take and also what sort of consequences will happen if you do.

Do you take the instant gains for the short term benefits, or do you plan what you are going to say and do ahead of time that will result in a better result in the long term?

Using the 10, 10, 10, the strategy allows you to quickly weigh up the positives and negatives of your decision and then eventually come to the right choice that works for you and your family.

With practice, you will find yourself making better and better choices. Not just with the way you bring up your kids, but also your personal and work life.

The Counting Game

You can use whatever nice thing you like, but we found sweets to be the most effective. Based on their favourite sweets, you can number them, for example, Snickers would be one, and Skittles could be two and go all the way up to 20. 

By numbering their favourite sweets and showing them that if they do something well, they will receive their favourite numbered sweet, you make the process of being good into a game, that’s fun and with a reward at the end. 

Once children start figuring out the risk and reward element of their actions you can quickly see their behaviour start to change once they realise their is a definite cause and effect purely based on their behaviour.

Of course, it doesn’t need to be sweets, it could be savoury foods, and even fruit. It really is your choice what you choose as a treat and reward. You will find that it is a distractor and a self-control strategy.

Give Them Space

This is a relatively new strategy of not calling it a timeout, or curfew, but “their space”. It is basically a place in your home where your child can be alone if they are struggling with anger where they can go to

It doesn’t mean they are in trouble or that something is wrong, it just means they have their own space where they can calm down, be alone and then come back when they have calmed down.

In Summary

If you have tried all of the things recommended in the article and things haven’t improved, this might be more of an emotional problem with your child and you may need to sit down with your Pediatrician or a child psychiatrist to see what is really happening. 

Often times children don’t feel like they are being heard and no matter what you try, you simply can’t understand why your child would be behaving in such a way.

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