When you were a child, and you spilled a drink at the dining table, did your parents scold you for being stupid or careless? How did that make you feel?
As a parent, if your own child spills a drink at the dinner table, do you snap at your child and tell them they are careless? How do you think your child will feel? What might they think?
Another example might be a family outing and the kids are not ready to leave. Shouting at the kids – “You are NEVER ready on time!” (Inner thought – I am not a responsible person/parent who can get anywhere on time.) How do you feel after snapping at your child?
Parenting requires patience. Using the above example of the spilled drink, was it REALLY done on purpose? Kids are a work in progress, developing skills and learning how the world works, may be a little slow or indecisive, have different set of priorities etc. These are things that take time to improve during the course of their normal growth and development.
It’s very likely you’ll lose it on your kids every time if you have a low tolerance for such typical childhood behaviours. Our reason for snapping is not because of the situation at hand, it is the story we tell ourselves about the situation. Being able to recognise the formation of a rant and pausing, learning to stop (and write) instead of snapping will be proof that you can stop yourself if you wish.
When you feel as though you are about to snap … STOP. Take a deep breath and listen to the story going on in your head. Perhaps you are able to write it down.
At a later time, and when you are relaxed, analyse what you wrote down and look for patterns and re-occurring thoughts, and then look for alternative thoughts. Going back to the example of running late for the family outing, the alternative thought cam be “there are plenty of valid reasons for being late occasionally and this one incident is not a reflection of me. I don’t care what others think.” The next time you happen to running late, replace the planned rant with the above statement.
There will no doubt be times when you will snap at your children. Sometimes it really helps to use a kind voice even if we have to fake it. Effective change takes time. Noticing that you are about the snap and interrupting those thoughts can help to improve your tolerance levels. We become what we rehearse.
What do you think? Do you ever notice yourself preparing for a rant? What tips do you have for stop yourself from snapping at your kids?