Keeping Your Cool
By Laura Fogerty
Summer is here! With our children are out of school, with traveling or hosting visitors, or both, and with the endless demands on our time and patience, it is easy to feel our tempers rising like summertime temperatures. What’s a parent to do? How do we keep it together in the heat, the seemingly endless togetherness and changed routines? Well, first, we acknowledge that while summer brings much needed free time, outdoor activity, and happiness, it can also test our limits. By acknowledging possible trigger points, whether they stem from our own adverse childhood experiences or simply from exhaustion, we can provide happy summer break memories for our littles and ourselves.
Before anger flares, try to keep in mind that it might happen and decide that when and if things take a downward path, that you will take a step back, and put some distance between the offending action and your reaction. Take a deep breath and ask yourself, “How much does this really matter, in the grand scheme of things?” If the answer is that it doesn’t really matter in the bigger picture, then take a few moments for a time out for yourself. Take some deep breaths and try not to say anything at all until you are in a more emotionally peaceful place. Feeling like you are about to lose it? Try the following before coming unglued:
*Text a friend announcing you’re going to lose it – even if he/she doesn’t answer you back, it gives you a moment to “vent” before reacting.
*Tell yourself “I will keep calm. I will not yell.” Everybody needs a cheerleader from time to time; be your own!
*Is your child’s behavior the source of your nearly exploding temper? Say “I love you.” This statement makes it a little harder to yell when we remember we actually love the tiny person standing in front of us.
*Make a rule for yourself to count to ten before yelling – or one hundred or five thousand!
*Change the scenery. Walk away. Walk outside. Just get moving in a positive direction.
Everyone gets exhausted, overwhelmed and even angry from time to time. It doesn’t make us awful to experience negative emotions; it makes us human. It’s what we do when we are angry, and how we manage the intensity, that are important. Showing healthy responses to negative emotions helps teach our children that all emotions can be expressed and managed safely.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that if we do lose our cool, to apologize to our littles. We are only human and we are going to make mistakes. Don’t give up, because believe it or not, it will get easier and easier, especially when we realize that as parents, we need to model emotional management so our children can learn to do the same. So, soak in the summer! Get outside! Take a breath! Take a break! And know that this time is just a blink – it can’t and won’t last forever.
Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!
Laura has an ACE score of 6.