Parents have a lot more on their plate today. We have never had so many pandemics at one time–health, financial, cultural, and political. Many parents are exhausted, burnt out, and frustrated by the changes every day.
They want a calm, happy stress-free home.
Parenting has gotten more challenging today. It may seem a lot harder, but it doesn’t have to be.
If we understand this one thing: how to navigate our emotions by using our internal GPS. Then we can learn to step back, access, and then respond with less freaking out and yelling at our kids and everyone else.
Here’s what I mean…
Somehow I made it home before 7PM. It would be another late dinner. I plopped my work totes down by the door, ready to dive into the shower. As I ran upstairs, I yelled down: “I’m taking a shower!”
“Wait, the dishwasher is running, you can’t.”
“Dad, I always take a shower after work.”
“I’m sorry. I forgot we need dishes for dinner.”
I continued up. I collapsed into my desk chair. After three cleansing breaths called, “Alexa, play…Carole King.”
By the third song, I jumped up belting out, “You’ve gotta to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart.”
“Dad, when did you start the dishes, in the last 15 minutes?”
“Oh, let me think, it should be done soon.”
“That’s the drying cycle, just check.”
Instead of flipping out, I circumvented an explosive situation.
Why was I able to calm down so quickly, step back and reassess the situation? No, I don’t have nerves of steel or bullet-proof armor. Because I understand how to use my internal GPS to avoid conflicts, reduce stress, and freak out less often. And you can too!
But here’s the problem. In his recent book, “Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Your Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves and Our Society Thrive” Dr. Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, lays it out.
He says most of us were raised to ignore or suppress our emotions. So, we don’t know how to use our internal GPS to navigate them.
Instead, we end up in fight or flight mode, yelling and overreacting to most daily conflicts and encounters.
Think about it. We talk a lot about being smarter and getting better grades. Do we ever talk about raising our emotional IQ?
That’s why he has made raising our emotional intelligence his life’s work.
So, when we are flipping out with our kids, yelling, and later feeling mommy guilt, we need to stop blaming our child, and ourselves for not being a better parent, and pay attention to how we feel.
What if our everyday scenarios with our family could play out differently?
Here’s what I mean.
Is this you?
You come in from a very hard day and plop your things down, slam the door. You’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and hangry. You just need some alone time. No more room on your plate.
“Mom, I can’t do this, school is stupid!,” your oldest, beyond frustrated.
Your Alex comes bouncing in, “Mom, Mom, Mommy, come here! Mommy come now!”
You lose it. Now you’re yelling: “Get away, leave me A-L-O-N-E!” The words fly out, and you can’t take them back.
Now you’re in a shouting match with your two kids.
You run to the pantry and wolf down a giant size candy bar. Nothing can wash away your deep mommy guilt.
Rewind. But this could be you.
You come in from a very hard day and plop your things down. You’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and hangry. You just need some alone time. No more room on your plate.
You alert your kids using “I” statements.
“I feel exhausted, hungry, and overwhelmed. I know you have a lot of things that you want to tell me. Jasmine, I know you need help with your homework.
I need a little time to breathe and settle in.
I need you to let me be for five minutes. We’ve talked about this before. Just like you when you need to sit quietly and chill after school.”
Why? It’s okay to ask for what you need when you need it says child development expert Karen DeHaven, Founding Director of AHA! Studio for Integrated Therapies LLC, my go-to resource for kid’s challenging behavior. So, that your family can learn to lean in and give you the support you need when you need it. If you do this consistently, and so do the other adults in the house, then your kids will learn how to best support you.
It is less likely that you will explode and lose control. When you can stop and correct your course of action things will go smoother. When you do, your family sees how you manage your emotions. And you become a better role model.
If that’s the model that kids see from the adults in the household, then your children will model what they see.
Name It to Tame It: 3 Simple Steps to Calm
Step 1: Pay attention to how you feel.
The first step to emotional intelligence DeHaven says is, “Name It to Tame It.”
It means first, you must stop and pay attention to what you’re feeling, and then you need to identify it.
Ask: What am I feeling right now?
What just happened or what was I just doing to trigger it?
Then assess: Do I want to experience more of it? Then milk it by thinking, talking, and feeling it in the body.
Jodi Silverman, founder of the Moms Who Dare Community, goes further. She uses best-selling author Danielle Laporte’s research-based framework delineated in her book, “The Desire Map,” to make empowered choices and set heart-centered daily intentions.
Ask these leading questions to guide the process:
How am I feeling?
How do I want to feel today?
Accomplished or excited?
Rushed or calm?
What do I want to put into my body?
Who do I want to spend my free time with?
Step 2: Get grounded.
Consider what takes you to your happy place. For me, it’s having “Alexa” play Carole King. That’s not how I start my day, but rather how I wind down or shift my mood. Get ideas and discover what makes you happy with our Family Feel Good Sensory Chart.
Be the first to get notified when our FREE “Family Feel Good Toolkit” will be ready that Karen DeHaven and I have made especially for crazy busy moms like you. Click the link below to sign up today to get the most recent science-backed, proven tips, techniques, and other resources to parent with more confidence and less stress.
Step 3: Share What I Need with My Family
Be courageous and ask for what you need.
I’m here to help and support you on your parenting journey. Let’s learn from each other and share from each other. Join our Resilient Families Thrive Facebook family. Coming soon a private group just for you. So, let me know what you most pressing challenges are. Then I can reach out and give you simple solutions. You won’t need to all the legwork and delve into the research.
Next in the series, a deeper dive into providing the tools and support to help your kids understand and manage their emotions better. Get notified right away when next article in series will be up by signing up today.