How do you behave when you are frustrated? Do you swear at the computer? Do you hang up on the accounts representative because she can’t assist you in the way you want her to? (shameful confession – yes, I did that today.) Do you scream and yell and stomp around like a preschooler? Do you justify your bad behavior because you are stressed or overwhelmed?
Parents, your toddler, preschooler, child, adolescent or older teen is watching you. They are taking notes about your behavior all the time. How you handle your stress and your frustration is being recorded in their mind. No matter what you a have told them is acceptable, your actions are the teachers they remember.
Sometimes when I can’t get the check book to balance or make my printer scan wirelessly to my computer, I have to just walk away. Walking away probably preserves my sanity as well as the printer/copier machine. Walking away allows me to cool down and take a break from the frustration. Later, perhaps even the next day, I can approach the problem again with fresh eyes and much less frustration. Generally, when I do this the problem is quickly and easily resolved.
You know your toddler was not being malicious when he emptied the Vaseline and baby powder all over the bathroom. He was simply experimenting and it was a fascinating redecorating of the walls, carpet, vanity and towels. They are always so proud of their masterpieces that they often cover themselves as well. Toddlers are experts at providing parents with opportunities to demonstrate stress and anger management.
Please teach and model healthy and productive methods of stress management to your children. Here are a few more ideas:
Go ahead and cry. Tears are a wonderful stress reliever. It is okay to cry in your child’s presence.
Take deep breaths. Go outside and get some fresh air.
Participate in physical activity or exercise.
Take an Excedrin or the pain reliever of your choice, taken as directed.
Discuss with your child or spouse how to tackle the problem. They have great ideas.
If possible, take a nap. Everyone benefits from at least a quiet time alone.
Give yourself some time. Does the problem have to be resolved immediately?
Play some favorite music. Music is an emotional language that speaks to our spirits.
Examine your own attitude.
Find something humorous and laugh.
Take a picture of the disaster and post it on fb for sympathy or in their baby book.
Hold your child and read a book together. They will soon be too big to fit in your lap. Everyone needs a hug.