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How to Keep cool when kids push your buttons

Parenting By John Muturi
Photo: Courtesy

You had this vision of doing it all — having in a career, raising children, and even fitting in some fun time with your spouse or just yourself. Then reality hits and far from feeling like you have it all, this jack-of-all trades master-of-none approach leaves you feeling like you never quite seem to have enough of anything.

The resultant stress triggers anxiety, edginess, intolerance and patience with family members, especially the children.

Your patience and attention are some of the most valuable gifts you can give to your child. Keeping cool as a parent can be tough for almost anyone and the stress is often exacerbated if you are edgy about your job, short on time, have children with lots of extracurricular activities, or your children are non-compliant.

No one can keep their patience all of the time so, strive to make some changes that will allow you to become a more patient parent, and the entire family will reap the rewards.

Patience is a gift and a skill to be developed. It however takes practice, compromise, and actually setting a goal. Try baby steps first, such as counting to 10 before raising your voice, and then moving on to higher-level skills such as developing a different perspective or changing your parenting and family priorities.

The more you keep your cool with your children, the less stress there will be in your household. And your children will take notice and just might begin to model a more tolerant attitude themselves!

Here is how:

*Keep your expectations realistic.

Remember that there are only 24 hours in a day and some of that must be devoted to work, mealtimes, sleep, extracurricular activities, checking homework and preparing for the next day. Trying to stuff 28 hours of activity into 24 never works well, and the entire day may feel incomplete and upsetting.

It's psychologically healthier to set limits, guidelines and structure on your day up front rather than to fall behind and feel like a failure at the end of the day.

This may mean saying "no" to some requests made by your children, neighbours or friends. They may be disappointed, but keeping your schedule on track will ultimately please you and others much more than gratifying their immediate and perhaps unimportant requests. You may also have to give up some responsibilities in order to keep a realistic schedule.

Prioritize what really matters.

When considering what is important to the family, don't forget to include things that are important to you as an individual. If you're not getting some of your own needs met, most likely you'll be short-tempered, and less than patient with the children.

Prioritise what matters to the children.

Many of the activities we get so stressed about are self-imposed and unnecessary. Over-engaging children in too many activities is counter-productive. After spending a lot of time on these activities you may discover only one of them has a positive and significant impact.

To avoid this trap, ask them to keep you informed as to whether they feel that they're getting anything out of the activities, or are engaging in them out of habit or a feeling of responsibility.

Delegate chores.

Set up a chore chart that is age-appropriate. Be sure to keep it realistic to your children's development stages and set deadlines for the chores. Also, attach significant consequences (both positive and negative) to task completions.

Have a backup plan.

Children can really push our buttons, and we all need some tricks to calm us down. For instance, if your child is fussy, have an older sibling watch over her and take a relaxing shower. This allows you to calm down and think about what you really want to say to your fussy child.

Remember, you can always reprimand later, but you can't take back inappropriate statements made in anger.

Stay Ahead!

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