Summer has arrived in full force. Climbing temperatures send us scurrying for shade and cool water to splash in.
We’re spending more time indoors together during the hottest parts of the day, and no amount of air conditioning can save us from our own rising summer temperatures.
Spending more time together as a family during the summer months offers many great gifts. Kids and parents have more time for play. A shorter to-do list and fewer scheduled activities give us all a chance to breathe a bit and enjoy a slower week together.
But spending more time together as a family also brings some new challenges as parents. Sibling strife often heats up, meltdowns spike as schedules loosen, and parents’ fuses can get a bit shorter.
You may find yourself blowing your top or losing your cool more often than you’d like to. We often start the day with great intentions and end the day with tension and regret. You’re not alone!
Parents generally spend more hours per day parenting in summer months than they do the rest of the year. It is no surprise then that we experience some challenges – both old ones we thought we had nailed or new ones we never saw coming.
The good news is that these challenges are the best way to grow as a parent. When everything is running smoothly we don’t spend much time on our parenting or our connections with our kids. When things get rocky is when we read that parenting book, reach out for support, or explore new ways to connect. Challenge and tension create a landscape for change and growth.
Once you’ve decided to try some new tools or gather new insight the first step is having a strategy for cooling down when you get angry and frustrated.
Our great techniques and skillfully crafted language, no matter how genius, are useless if we use them with anger and resentment. When a big grown-up parent is angry with a little kid, all that kid sees and feels is the anger in the room. So, the first step is to cool down so your child can hear you.
Here are a few quick ideas to break the tension and diffuse the situation….
1) Put yourself in time out – Go to another room and take some deep breaths. Don’t go back in there until your jaw has loosened, face has softened, body is more relaxed. Kids are experts at reading their parents’ body language.
2) Get down on the floor – By putting yourself on equal ground with your child they will relax a bit and you’ll have a better shot of really seeing their eyes and what might be going on in that little person’s body. It also balances the power a bit which can shift you out of the finger-wagging parent mode and into listening mode.
3) Offer a hug….even if you don’t want to – Sometimes a hug is all that is needed to break the cycle of tension and anger. Find a way to stop arguing, take a breath, and say – “can we have a hug?”
You may not feel like it, but once you’re hugging you’ll begin to relax and your positive feelings and warmth will have a chance to re-emerge. This will also help your kid relax. A win-win situation! By the time your hug is over you’ll both be better equipped to solve the problem.
Remember, you hold the key.
You are the grown-up. It is your job to be the one to diffuse a heated situation, not your child. We have many more years experience managing emotion and difficult situations. Don’t wait for your kid to get on-board with your reasoning or stop arguing and comply with your demands.
You don’t need to win.
Be the one to model how to stop an unproductive and circular disagreement that is doing nothing but causing pain and frustration. Model for your child how to cool down and diffuse a heated situation. This skill will be incredibly valuable to them as they grow….and you’ll feel better too.