Calming the Storm: 3 Ways Empowered Parents Stay Level
I’m sure it’s preaching to the choir, but parenting is stressful! It can tax even the most patient of person, pushing them to their limits and sometimes past them. Each day and each child can present their own unique mixture of excitement and stress that it is hard to prepare for what could be in store. Empowered Parents recognize this dilemma and take steps to check their inner tension levels regularly.
This seems like a simple thing on the surface, and probably common sense, but it is not easy to do in practice. Your mindset and level of resilience and tolerance will continuously be challenged in new ways, which will take its toll eventually. This is especially true if nothing is being done to let out some of the steam to manage yourself.
The more we let the pressure build-up, the harder parenting will become. We will be more reactive, jumping on small things that wouldn’t usually get to us. This will take away from the relationship you have with your child. You’ll also be more hyper-focused on misbehavior, which means you might soon find that is all it seems you are talking to your child about. When this happens, chances are the solution will be found in you and your approach.
It’s okay to admit that parenting is getting to you and that you might be feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or just plain frustrated. There is no shame in that! The problem comes when you are not doing anything about it. If you are letting the storm come in again and again with no preparations, you are asking for a disaster.
This post is about calming the storm within you. It is possible to keep yourself level even in hard times. Not every behavior, no matter how big or small has to be a trigger that sends you into a full-blown parent tantrum. Keeping yourself level will allow you to respond rather than react to your child and the situation. Here are three tips that Empowered Parents use to keep themselves level.
#1: Deep Breathing
A lot is going on inside your body when you start to feel tense and worked up. Your breathing starts to shallow, so you’re taking more and more breaths. This creates an increased heartbeat, tensed muscles, and a generally increased feeling of being on edge. Your brain releases the stress hormone cortisol, your adrenaline rises, and it is hard to keep calm because you are in survival mode.
The crazy thing is that this can happen quickly, especially if you are already stressed about other items in your life. You might not even be aware that you are that much on edge, and that is why sometimes we snap before we have a grasp of what is going on. There is too much pressure built up, and it had to go somewhere.
This is where deep breathing comes in handy. While it alone is not the solution to everything, it can act as a pressure-release valve for that build up tension. Taking deep breaths forces your body to slow down. Your heart rate will decrease, your muscles will relax, and your mind will slow as you give it something to focus on.
It is this centering or grounding process that makes deep breathing so effective. When we are overwhelmed and worked up, it’s like we lose touch with our bodies and our surroundings. Everything becomes a blur as we erupt. Deep breathing brings us back down and helps us connect with our surroundings. It’s a powerful first step to calming the storm.
A simple breathing technique you can start using today is 8-4-8 breathing. Inhale for 8 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, and then exhale for 8 seconds. If this is your first time doing deep breathing, 8 seconds might be a bit much. You can do 6-3-6 or 4-2-4 if necessary. Whichever you choose to do, make sure you do it at least ten times to make it useful!
#2: Understanding Emotions
Your heart rate and adrenaline aren’t the only things that get going when you’re worked up; your emotions play a big part in this too. In fact, when it comes to situations with our children that get under our skin, our emotions tend to get out of hand a lot faster because of our investment in our children and the sense of worth we connect with parenting.
Emotions are a powerful resource in life when they are used appropriately and realistically. They can help us assess a situation, experience life more fully, and create deep and lasting bonds with others. When used inappropriately or out of control, they can wreak havoc on the way we live and experience life. So, what does this have to do with parenting and keeping our cool?
When you’re in tense situations with your child or are simply in a reactive mood, chances are your emotions have come out of balance. They are having a powerful impact on how you are approaching the situation. With your emotions out of control, you will be making the problem worse for yourself. You’re going to be dwelling on the problem instead of looking for solutions or how to keep the relationship strong. Reactivity only leads to devastation.
You’ll want to keep track of your emotions and the energy they accumulate, not just from parenting, but all areas of your life. The more stress you are under in different areas of your life, the easier it will be for you to lose control of your inner-storm. Get to know your emotions in new ways, connect with them so you know how they impact you and what warnings you have if they start to get overwhelming. You can learn more about how to do this in our no-cost course Calming the Storm!
#3: Dealing with their Thoughts
Have you ever noticed how quickly your mind comes up with the worse story possible when that storm is building up and ready to go? The faster that story gets told, the more we believe it, which only leads to more build-up and tension. Our minds are powerful things, and just like emotions, they can be helpful, or they can be destructive.
Whether the thoughts are about you or your child, they will impact the way you can manage yourself in tense parenting situations. They can bring you down, leave you mad, or keep you blind in the situation. When you let them run unchecked, your thoughts will make the problem worse and fuel the storm rather than let it dissipate.
The more this happens, the more we start believing these thoughts without even challenging their validity. That is partially due to the intense emotions these thoughts come with as well. If I am thinking it and feeling it that strongly, then it must be true, right? This is not always the case and is dangerous ground to be on as a parent.
Keeping track of what tends to happen before your thoughts go off track and start leading you into the storm is a wise thing to do. In addition to tracking your thoughts, make sure to have the courage to challenge them and not just believe them at face value. Your child and the relationship you have with them will thank you for this!
Maintaining our cool as parents is not always the easiest thing to do, but it is critical. Blowing your top only encourages your children to do the same, which turns a negative situation into a tragedy. If you are looking for some extra support in being able to keep your cool, please check out our email parenting class, Calming the Storm, which provides 10-days of powerful tools and lessons delivered straight to your email. No cost, just powerful change. You can enroll in this class here!