As a parent, I’m sure many of you have experienced those times when your children’s behaviour becomes really hard to manage.
Often when they’re escalating or getting angry about something we can feel ourselves getting dragged in to it and being drawn in to an argument. It can be very hard to stop ourselves from being drawn in and some kids are incredibly skilled at engaging people in having an argument with them.
The other side of that is that many parents find themselves just giving in to their child when they escalate – they don’t want to get engaged in that argument, maybe they don’t have the energy or they’re fearful of the response if they stand up to their child.
Prefer to listen? Just hit play!
“When we come at any situation from a perspective of connection rather than correction, it really changes how we manage absolutely everything. It’s a phenomenal way of thinking about things.”
Neither of those are ideal for us as parents to be doing, but they’re also totally understandable, and I’m sure we’ve all experienced both versions.
The following three tips are going to help you to keep from experiencing either of those versions. Neither help to build our relationship or connection with our child.
1. Stay calm.
This is something that’s much easier to say than do.
I’m now fairly good at staying calm – it takes a lot of practise – but even when my son is angry or frustrated, I have taught myself to stay calm in those moments (I don’t always manage it though!).
It does make a difference. Our meltdowns have gone from lasting 3-4 hours at their worst, to 5 minutes most of the time, so it really does work.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I really champion self care. Self care is the thing that helps me stay calm.
I find that really deep breathing can help me stay calm, and parents will often report to me that when they start deep breathing, their child copies as they can see that it’s working and it helps the child too.
Find out what works for you to help you stay calm in the moment.
2. Don’t talk too much.
If you’re like me and you like a good natter, not talking can be really hard!
In the moment, as our child is getting angry and shouting or saying hurtful and unkind things, our natural reaction is to tell them to stop.
We keep talking at them to make them stop, and try to rationalise with them, but in the moment they just can’t be rational.
As a child is escalating they are going in to fight or flight mode and the less rational they become.
When we are trying to rationalise with them, all we are doing is overloading their brains even more and fuelling the escalation.
We need to try to say as little as possible in the moment as we don’t want to add any more to their overload, and they really can’t take it in.
They are likely to become more frustrated and upset when we keep pushing them to calm down, to stop it, to tell us what’s wrong.
Deep breathing can also work here, especially if you feel like you may say something you might regret later.
3. Stay present
As much as possible, when your child is struggling with their emotions, we want to stay with them to show them that we love and care for them irrespective of what is going on for them.
Even though they’re getting angry and upset, we want them to know that we’re still there for them and love them.
We need to stay with them and help them feel safe and loved.
When a child is escalating they may feel unloved and unsafe, so if we leave them, we’re telling them their emotions are too big for us to handle. That’s a really scary thing for any child to experience.
Staying with them helps them to know that the big scary emotion they’re experiencing in the moment is ok, that we can support them and that everything’s going to be ok.
As much as possible, assuming it is safe to do so, you need to stay with them and stay present.
You are their harbour walls; you are their safe space.
Through my training and support in The Connective Parenting Hub, I help you work through the Connective Parenting NVR approach to reduce meltdowns and manage behaviour to ultimately create a calmer, happier home. If this is the right next step for you and your family, I’ll be there to support you at each step.
If you’re a professional who works with children and families, click here for more helpful resources and support.