I know we all have bad days and make mistakes in our parenting, so I would never propose that you can or should be in total, perfect control of your emotions. In fact, you may have made some mistakes that you feel really bad about. You want your son to see that you are an imperfect human being and you make mistakes, but you also know how to take care of your relationships and make things right.
So, what do you do when your anger and frustration get out of hand? Here are a few strategies to help you keep your cool when things get hot.
1. Take a time out
I am a big fan of the parent time-out. Sometimes it is necessary to maintain your sanity and possibly avoid expressing your anger towards your teenager in a harmful way. Do whatever you need to do to get a few minutes alone to take some deep breathes and calm yourself down. You can alway come back to the conversation and most likely the problem at hand is not an emergency situation. Let him know that you recognize this conversation is not really working and you need a break but you want to come back to it later. Taking a time out is also beneficial for your son, because he may also need a way to take a break from the conversation.
2. Call in support
This could be a phone call to your spouse, a friend or a family member. Sometimes it is difficult for us to admit that we are struggling and we can’t do this on our own. Reach out to someone who will listen or even help out in some practical way. Take advantage of your close relationships to help you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses in communication. Ask for that all important feedback from people who care about you. Are you too anxious? Do you tend to over-react or get over-involved? Are you controlling or judgmental?
It can be helpful to get support to know what you can work on as well as to have someone to hear you out when you need to vent.
3. Pay attention to your own self care
Eat healthy and exercise. Get enough sleep and have some fun. Integrate some sort of practice that will help you to stay calm in the moment, such as mindfulness, yoga, meditation or prayer. It can be difficult for Moms and Dads to put a priority on self-care. Family life is demanding and your schedules are already full. But think about how much more present and calm you will be if you get that chance to exercise in the morning, enjoy a quiet cup of coffee or take a trip with your friends.
As I have said before the best way to change your teens behavior is to change yours. If you want a more calm and controlled teenager, consider how you can pay attention to being more calm and controlled yourself. Make sure you are not sacrificing yourself for your kids so much that you are not able to parent effectively. As a parent you give and give and sometimes you may forget to recharge your own batteries.
Laughter really is the shortest distance between two people and it will help you connect in a positive way. Remember that most things that make you angry won’t even matter in a few days or weeks. Plus, ￼studies have shown that laughter releases endorphins, which will literally melt away stress and tension. Use your sense of humor to be more of a lighthearted parent. Your teenager will thank you for it. I definitely recommend using humor in the way you relate to and even discipline your teenager.
5. Spend time away from your children
As a parent, you need time and space that is not consumed by your kids. You may just break if you don’t give yourself a break. It can be an easy mistake to make everything about the kids during these years and neglect yourself, your own interests and of course your significant relationships. It may be a challenge to recognize your limits and take action, but it is most definitely worth the effort.
Anger is a common emotion for anyone who enters the realm of parenting, especially in the toddler and teenage years. Sometimes it gets the best of you. At times you may parent in ways that do not line up with your values and you may feel regret and shame. This is part of the process, but if you focus on controlling your emotions and connecting with your son your relationship will survive and hopefully thrive.
Psychologist Daniel Siegel said it well. “When we begin to know ourselves in an open and self- supportive way, we take the first step to encourage our children to know themselves.”
I sincerely hope that the love and bond you have with your teenager will endure your mistakes and your most difficult days.