Let’s face it: parenting is stressful. No matter how “good” your children are, kids can be frustrating and test our patience. Taking care of your children’s needs 24/7 can be physically and emotionally exhausting. So is it any wonder that moms and dads can lose their temper, feel anxious, and overall dread the hard parts of parenting? Most all of us want to feel more joy in our relationships with our kids. Here are some strategies for more peaceful parenting:
Acknowledge the Challenges
The first step may seem a bit obvious, but you need to admit that there are things that are difficult. Sometimes just saying out loud that parenting is tough can help ease some of the anxiety. And you can’t solve a problem you don’t acknowledge. Do you feel resentful toward your children? Does your son or daughter seem to be negatively affected by your mood? Is your stress making it difficult to complete simple tasks? Allow yourself to acknowledge what’s really going on (even if it’s painful or unpleasant).
Get to the Root of Your Feelings
If you find yourself angry or yelling at your children, do a little emotional digging and discover what’s at the root of it. It may be anxiety and exhaustion (both common experiences of parenting). It could be something unrelated to your kids – a tough day at work, financial stress, or difficulty with extended family. You may be taking out the stress of these other things on your kids without even realizing it! When our plates are overflowing, little things can become big things really quickly. It’s not easy, but if you are able to practice self-care (like getting enough rest, exercising your body, and doing things that refresh your spirit), you can help reduce your anger and then feel more peaceful with your children.
If your actions and words with your children are a continual issue, it’s important to hold yourself accountable for your slip-ups and mistakes. Catch yourself when you’re about to lose your temper. Practice meditation techniques to calm yourself down before an incident occurs. If things get very heated emotionally, have the courage to leave the room until you can gain control. It’s okay to put yourself in time out to breathe, think, and calm down. I find that after giving myself a few minutes, I can think more clearly and be the parent I want and need to be – even on the tough days!
Celebrate the “Wins”
When you feel yourself improving in areas of parenting where you once struggled, give yourself credit for doing a great job! Take notice when your kids smile and enjoy these moments together. Join in on the jumping in the leaves or licking the last drop of an ice cream cone. Praising the accomplishments and progress you make in this endeavor can inspire you to continue to practice peaceful parenting.