If you’re looking for simple, effective, and actionable tips to help you figure out how to be a calm parent on even your busiest and most stressful days, we’ve got 7 ideas to help! Whether you’re the parents to tantrum throwing toddlers or teens who enjoy a good power struggle, these positive parenting techniques are simple yet effective, and will help keep the lines of communication open for a happier and healthier home.
How to Be a Calm Parent
1. MAKE SURE YOUR CUP IS FULL
If you are trying to figure out how to be a calm parent, one of the first things I encourage you to do is take a step back and spend some time thinking about your own needs. Instead of worrying about how you are showing up for your family, consider how you are showing up for yourself. Self-care is one of the first things to slip when life gets busy, and once kids enter the picture, it can feel next to impossible to make time for ourselves. Time is a luxury very few of us have, and the idea of finding an additional 15-30 minutes to invest in ourselves can feel overwhelming. But what we fail to realize is that we cannot be good to the people we love if we aren’t good to ourselves first.
Keep in mind that self-care goes above and beyond manicures and massages, and will look differently through each phase of your life. Right now, your self-care routine may be more about finding the time to eat well, exercise, sleep, and enjoy your morning mug of coffee on your own. Whatever it is that you need, make time for it. It will not only benefit you – it will benefit the people you love as well.
CLICK HERE for a list of 21 self-care care ideas for women you actually have time for!
2. KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
While it may seem strange to recommend you keep a gratitude journal in a post designed to teach you how to be a calm parent, it can make a huge difference in setting a positive tone for the day ahead and reminding you to count your blessing when life starts to feel overwhelming. I like to take a few minutes in the morning while I’m drinking my coffee and catching up on my email to write down 5 things I’m grateful for. These are usually small things that bring me joy, like a good workout, a warm cup of coffee, date nights with my husband, and snuggles with my daughter.
You can write your gratitude list on a piece of paper or in the notes app on your smartphone, but if you need a bit more structure, I really love The Five-Minute Journal. It’s a simple yet powerful tool you can use to train your brain to start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude so you can learn how to be a happy and positive person. And it only takes 5 minutes to complete! Find out more about The Five Minute Journal HERE.
3. SET LIMITS AHEAD OF TIME
Another helpful tip for those who want to know how to be a calm parent is to figure out the things that set you off in the first place, and put plans in place to avoid them. A great way to do this is to be clear about your rules and expectations, and to enforce logical consequences when your children don’t follow them. By clearly explaining the rules that govern your home, your child will know what’s expected of him or her and what you will and will not tolerate. Remember that the easier the rules are – and the more consistently you reinforce them – the easier it is for your kids to meet your expectations. Visual schedules are a great tool to use for younger kids and/or those who require extra prompting throughout the day.
CLICK HERE to learn how you can use logical consequences to naturally encourage better behavior with your children.
4. SCHEDULE REGULAR ONE-ON-ONE TIME WITH YOUR CHILD
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given as it relates to parenting is to ensure I am blocking off time each day to spend some good ‘ole quality time with my daughter. I was first given this advice when she was in the throes of the Terrible Twos, and while the advice seemed silly given that we were together 24/7, I soon realized that just because we’re in close proximity with one another, it doesn’t mean we’re actually connecting. Once I started blocking off distraction-free time for the 2 of us to do something we enjoy, I noticed a dramatic shift in my daughter’s behavior. She was no longer acting out to get my attention, which helped me feel less irritable and impatient.
If temper tantrums and power struggles are a regular occurrence in your household and you’re trying to figure out how to be a calm parent, I urge you to evaluate how much solid one-on-one time you’re spending with your children. Remember that quality time doesn’t need to be a 3-hour endeavour filled with baking and crafting – it just needs to be deliberate and intentional. Turn off your computer and put your smartphone away and give your child the undivided attention he or she craves (and deserves!). Play a game, read a book, go out for ice cream, or just sit and talk for 20 minutes. There are so many simple ways you can squeeze quality time into your day to help you and your child connect, and we have 75 ideas to inspire you right here!
5. PAUSE BEFORE YOU REACT
If you want to know how to be a calm parent, try to remind yourself not to react the moment your little one says or does something that gets under your skin. As soon as you feel yourself getting angry or impatient, make sure your child is safe and then remove yourself from the situation and take a few deep breaths. When you feel your heart rate returning to normal, consider the situation that just occurred and your reaction to it. Is your child legitimately misbehaving, or is he or she feeling overwhelmed? Are you distracted? Is his or her behavior simply a plea for your attention? Did your child make you angry, or did something else upset you? Will lashing out at your child solve anything other than your need to release your anger? Taking a few moments to really consider these things will help put things in perspective so you can react appropriately.
Remember that we are our child’s biggest role models, so exercising proper self-control can go a long way in teaching your child acceptable coping skills. Don’t be afraid to verbalize what you’re doing (‘I’m feeling frustrated right now, so I am going to take 5 minutes to calm down before I respond to you’) so he or she has a better understanding of the strategies you are using to stay calm.
6. DO SOMETHING CALMING WHEN YOU FEEL STRESSED
While our children definitely have a way of pushing our buttons, our feelings of frustration and irritability are usually due to the build-up of multiple different stressors over time. Many of these things are completely out of our control, and if we don’t take the time to deal with them when they occur, a negative interaction with our kids can send us completely over the edge. If this resonates with you, a great strategy is to proactively brainstorm a few calming strategies you can use when you feel stressed. Here are some ideas to try:
- Take 5 deep breaths. It’s no secret that taking deep breaths can help restore a sense of calm when big emotions hit, but when our hearts are racing due to feelings of anger, our breathing is the farthest thing from our minds. Taking the time to focus on our breathing can calm the physical symptoms of anger, allowing us to feel more in control.
- Count to 10. If deep breathing isn’t your thing, counting to 10 has a similar effect in that it forces you to stop and focus on something else rather than reacting in the moment.
- Journal. Having a safe place (a plain notebook will suffice) where you can write down your thoughts freely so you can express your feelings in the moment is another great strategy for some people, but if there’s a risk someone might read what you wrote, considering using a gratitude journal so you can focus on positive things instead.
- Do something productive. Finding a productive way to expel negative energy can make a world of difference in bringing us back to a place of calm. Organize your desk, fold a load of laundry, or do the dishes to help you feel more in control when big emotions hit.
- Color. If you and your kids are having a rough time regulating your moods and emotions, coloring is a great mindfulness activity the whole family can enjoy, and you may be surprised to find your little ones opening up to you about the things that are bothering them as you sit together.
7. APOLOGIZE AND START AGAIN
My final tip for those who are trying to figure out how to be a calm parent is to give yourself and your child permission to start over when things begin to spiral out of control. Whether your child is acting out, or you are both just generally in a bad mood, it can be extremely effective and empowering to give each other permission to start again. Once all of the big emotions are out of the way, take a 5-minute breather and then give each other an opportunity to apologize. Acknowledge each other’s mistakes, come up with a plan on how to avoid a repeat of the situation, and then agree to move forward.
If you’re both just in a crabby mood after a hectic and overwhelming day, you may even suggest crawling back into your respective beds for a couple of minutes, and then get up and greet each other as if it’s a completely new day full of hope and optimism. Don’t be afraid to make this exercise silly and fun! Laughter is often the best medicine, and as long as you find a way for your child to learn from the situation, finding strategies to put it behind you both will go a long way in helping you end the day on a more positive note.
If you’re struggling to show up for your children the way you’d like to, I hope the tips and ideas in this post help you figure out how to be a calm parent on even your most stressful days. Remember to put your own needs first, to practice daily gratitude, to schedule regular one-on-one time with your kids, to find ways to calm yourself when stress arises, and to apologize and start again on the days you’re struggling.