Christmas, as we all know, is rapidly approaching. It's time to spend precious time with loved ones. The last thing you want to be concerned about over the holidays is losing your cool with the kids, letting your frustrations get in the way and making this Christmas one you'll never forget - and not in a good way.
It's common to feel annoyed or on edge over the holidays. After all, as parents, we all feel enormous responsibility to make the time as memorable as possible for our children. This can put us at the whim of our frustrations, rendering all of our stress management and relaxation tactics useless. That is why I wrote today's blog. To serve as a reminder of the benefits of staying calm and 5 Tips to Keep your Cool With the Kids.
How does remaining calm benefit the kids?
Staying calm demonstrates to the child that you may be angry yet you still remain within your "window of tolerance" (a space where you can manage your emotions). It teaches the kids to safely navigate intense emotions. When we aren't calm as parents, we aren't reasonable, and we might frequently join them in what feels like a game of tennis, going backwards and forwards and refusing to let them win, resulting in even more rage and emotional dysregulation.
Getting angry also enables for something known as transference to occur. Have you ever stepped into a room after two individuals had a fight and 'felt the vibe'? Children are like sponges, soaking up our emotions. If we are calm, they are likely to be calmer, if we are anxious they show signs of anxiety, etc.
How does remaining calm benefit you as a parent?
Staying calm permits us to remain in our parasympathetic nervous system, which allows us to access the logical half of our brain. When we are upset, we are in a state of fight, flight, or freeze and are unable to think logically. It enables us to stop playing the game, be empathic, and figure out how to address the problem much faster.
Remaining cool during memorable times such as Christmas will set yourself up for better, calmer behaviour from your children in the future - especially around the same time the year after. This is because your children will remember the incident and correlate your calm response with a win-win situation, motivating them to behave better.
Here are 5 of my top tips to remain calm during the holidays:
Tip 1 - Take time away:
Give yourself 5 minutes. Go and make a cup of tea, glass of water. I love a quick visualisation/ meditation whilst doing this. Create a happy calm, special place you go to in your mind. Practice going there when you are not stressed initially and then take yourself there when you are stressed. (I have a great video for this in my facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/keepgoingyouvegotthis )
Tip 2 - Check your breathing:
Are you breathing from your chest or your tummy. Put one hand on each and take some deep breaths from your tummy. I love 20 conscious connected breaths which means you are taking belly breaths without a break between the in and out breath. This shifts us into our rest and recovery system and switches off the stress responses.
Tip 3 - Find some running water:
Do not underestimate the power of running water. Running hands under some water for a few minutes helps to calm the nervous system.
Tip 4 - Stop the cycle:
If your child is dysregulated (not in control of their emotions often looks blank easy to spot in their eyes) stop trying to rationalise and engage in whatever is causing their distress. They are not able to access logical thinking so you will be going around in circles or escalating arguments.
Tip 5 - Role model:
Once you are calm you can help them find techniques to calm and you have role modelled how to do this effectively.
Need further help managing stress and family life? Check out our individual therapy and coaching page...
Alternatively, check out the NHS parental mental health resources...