By Laura Fogerty
The holiday season is upon us – time for presents and shopping and cooking and visiting and being visited and…stress! Holidays are a joyous time, sure, but also they can push even the best among us to our limits. What’s a parent to do? Breathe. Just breathe. While you’re breathing take a minute to acknowledge your own triggers during the holiday season. Whether your own triggers stem from your own adverse childhood experiences or simply from exhaustion, acknowledging our own triggers can help keep us away from the breaking point.
Before tempers flare, 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 try not to say anything at all until you are in an emotionally peaceful place. Feeling like you are about to lose it? Take a step back, and try to:
*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, and hey, it just might work!
*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! Whatever it takes!
*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 that is important. Showing healthy responses to negative emotions helps teach our children that all emotions can be expressed and managed safely and peacefully.
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. Keep breathing and counting, and keep learning, loving, and moving forward.
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.