Sam, my kids are stressing me out! This is the plea for help I recently received. Being a parent with a 12 year old, I so know this plea. I probably used it myself recently with all of this on-line at home schooling. As parents, we know it's a forever responsibility. And so in addition to what's running us in the background, whether it be stress from work, relationships, whatever that is, we've got an added component called kid/s. And I have tried so many things over the years to try and combat my stress from being a mom. The famous counting down from five to one, from three to one. All this counting and no relief. I sort of stumbled on what does work, and here it is.
A key strategy called detach. Now I don't know what it is with kids, but detach is huge and it's something that has to be practiced. Detach is key because what are kids looking for? What I have learned throughout the years talking to a lot of a lot of experts in the kid field is that kids are always looking to elicit a response from you, whether it's positive or negative. It doesn't matter. They want the response. So if you can learn to detach, you can avoid a that big explosion of a response which happens when stress gets to a boiling point. If you "boil" over, which is sometimes normal, as parents we always seem to regret it. I've apologized a bunch of times. And so when you feel that your child/ren is/are stressing you out, when you feel your body wanting to go into an immediate reaction, it's time to detach. Sometimes that looks like saying, "I need a minute." or "I hear what you're saying. I'm not prepared to respond." Or I'll get back to you in five minutes, but please respect my space. And sometimes the response, "If you don't stop, you're going to need to go to your room." is appropriate. Make sure that if you give a time in your response you keep to that time and have whatever discussion they want to have. The more you practice this the more you'll build that detachment muscle, you'll get better and better.
You've always got to come back with an appropriate response for the situation. Your children are going to take on your behavior, so it's critical to build the detachment skill. I promise one day you'll see the responses in them and when you see it, you're either going to be like, "Oh my God, that's what I do." Or "that's what my husband does." Or "that's what my partner does Or hopefully, "Oh, I did good..." with a big smile. I certainly have been there a few times. And so it's really important that when you know your buttons are getting pushed, when you feel that overwhelming tidal wave coming up that you put the brakes on, that you detach, that you ask for space and take the time that you need so that you can respond to your kids appropriately. You'll feel better and so will your kids. And hey, maybe you'll all be happier for it.
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