I have a confession to make. I was a very impatient dad. When my daughter threw tantrums or refused to listen to my instructions, my blood boiled and often times strict punishment was doled out.
After incidents like this I always felt guilty and regretted my action. I know that sometimes it’s not our fault as parents. We feel so confused on what’s the right thing to do during these moments of rebellion. I just knew that there had to be a better way to handle this. One day, to prevent myself from having the feelings of guilt again, I resolved not to lose my cool anymore.
That led me to discover what I’m about to share with you. This is my own experience and it works for me.
Have a plan before hand. You must know clearly when you’re in a situation that makes your temperature rise, what are the steps you need to take to cool down. Be mindful of your feelings and emotions and don’t let them take over your mind. Also make a commitment to yourself, no matter how angry you are, don’t use your hands or legs to solve the conflict. Use your voice.
Learn the skills. I did this by picking up books. This was what happened the last time I had an outburst. I went to a bookstore and grabbed a book. I learned the right ways to communicate with my children. I was delighted as I found some new ways to handle an angry child without yelling or physical force. Invest in good books like How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish and The No-Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. There are many useful tips there. Most of them are very practical. I even created a parenting website to help me constantly improve my skills.
Take a deep breath. This is handy when you’re about to lose your temper. Before you do anything drastic, stop and take a deep breath. Tell yourself that this is not as serious as you think. And there’s always a better way to handle this. Still feeling agitated? Why not take another deep breath. It looks simple and nothing special, but let me tell you it works!
Walk away. If you have tried taking deep breath and it didn’t work, walk away. A change in the environment causes a change in your emotions. If you and your child have a “war” in the living room, change your view by going to the kitchen. Or better still go out to the garden. Just close your eyes and relax. Soon you’ll discover that your impatience will disappear magically.
Seek first to understand. Be empathetic. Do your best to understand why your child acts like this. Is something bothering him? He might have a valid reason to behave the way he behaves. One day, while my daughter was about getting ready for nursery, she refused to take shower and made a fuss. I knew something was bothering her. The only way to find out was to talk to her nicely and patiently — without screaming. After talking to her, she revealed that I woke her up too early and she still felt like sleeping. So I was the “culprit.” Then I assured her that in order to get enough sleep, we had to sleep early and I promised to give her longer sleep if she requested. After I made this promise, off she went to the bathroom.
Laugh it out. When your child is not taking your instruction well, take it easy. Find an easy way out just by laughing at it. I mean literally. Your child will be surprised to see your reaction. Find humor in tensed situations like this helps. After all, it’s just a small matter after you take a hard look at it.
In his bid to be a better dad, Abel Cheng has created a parenting website, Parent Wonder. One of the most read posts on his site is 70 Toddler Games and Activities You Can Play and Do With Your Child.