Managing Your Own Emotions as a Parent | Parenting Resources | ThinkJr

Managing Your Own Emotions as a Parent.

There’s no doubt about it, sometimes being a parent is a very tough gig. It’s hard not to feel stressed, tired and anxious when faced with the many demands and challenges of parenting young children. Therefore, finding ways to regulate and manage your own emotions as a parent, so that you can calmly respond, rather than react to your child in those moments of stress can be a helpful skill to have under your belt. Here, we’ll explore how finding ways to manage your emotions as a parent can help both you and your child in those moments of tension and challenge.

Tackle stress
Consider that moment when your child ignores your instructions. Sometimes that comes after a hard day at work for you, when you are surrounded by others who you fear may be judging you and your abilities as a parent. Stressful. When we feel stressed, our muscles tense and our ability to challenge our unhelpful thinking patterns decreases. As a result, we many feel panicky and anxious. So, finding ways to manage stress can be helpful. The transactional model of stress is a simple process that helps you to be more able to balance demands placed upon you with the ability to manage. The first step is the primary appraisal: identify the source of the stress, that is, name the challenge. The next step is the secondary appraisal: to list the resources available to us in responding. Take a long, honest look at the skills, attitudes and approaches that you are already adept at using, the resources you have available to you. This allows you to then identify what needs to change so that your resources meet the level of challenge. How can you tackle the causes of stress in your and your child’s life? How can you find ways to reduce the challenge? Or can you rally additional resources and support to help you meet the challenge. By taking control of stress in this way, you are in a better place to manage your own emotional responses.

Avoid the peril of perfectionism
When we are feeling under pressure as a parent, it can be hard to realistically evaluate whether the ways we have interacted with our child are “good enough”. This can be fueled by an attitude of perfectionism. For this reason, it can be helpful to gain a better understanding of what “good enough” really means for us and for your family. Take time to reflect if you hold any unreasonable beliefs and thought patterns about yourself. For example, do you tell yourself you should never feel cross or frustrated with your child? Question whether that belief is realistic, or if it is simply a product of perfectionism. Having a sense of what “good enough” means for you and your family allows you to practice self-compassion and self-kindness when you do feel stressed and emotional.

Keep breathing
Breathing is our basic support system. In times of stress and difficulty, simply focusing on breathing can restore a sense of inner capability and calm, helping you to stay regulated and grounded. There are multiple breathing exercises you can practice. For many people, simply taking five slow, long breaths through their nose, is enough to offer a moment of calm. Conscious and mindful breathing helps you to take time to manage your emotion and physically moves your body from the fight and flight response, to a calmer more relaxed state.

To summarize, these techniques are all ways you can support yourself in those challenging moments of stress as a parent. The great news is that, not only are you likely to benefit from giving them a go, you’ll also offer your child a model and example of emotional regulation that can inspire and support them with their own emotional wellbeing. Calm parents are more likely to have calm children.

The Takeaways:
• It can be stressful being a parent to young children.
• Tackling stress, avoiding an attitude of perfection and using calming breathing techniques are all ways we can support our own emotional wellbeing as a parent.
• Parents who have high levels of emotional regulation are more able to calmly respond to children in times of stress, rather than reacting out of a position of stress.
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