Day 10: Healthy deed o' day: Stopped, Reflected, and Revised (aka Tried to be a Better Parent)

One day last month, I lost my temper. My oldest was doling out the sass on the car ride to school, and I'd simply reached my limit. My outburst lasted all of 10 seconds - and it was enough to prompt her to change her behavior - but I wish I'd been able to resolve the issue while remaining calm. Let it be said - I don't often regret what I say to my kids - just how I say it.

I decided to take a few extra minutes on the car ride home to improve and prepare for the next time. Because there will always be a next time. #shesonlynine.

So here comes my healthy deed of the day:

I turned off the radio, cleared my mind, and began reflecting on the moment I lost my stuff. I thought about how I'd felt, how she'd felt, and the words we'd used. I considered my tone of voice, my stress level, and how long the build-up had been brewing (i.e. could I have shut her backtalk down before we'd even left the house?) I didn't come to any great conclusions - you'll have to goggle "best child rearing blogs" for that. But I do know I could have reacted differently "in the moment".

For the next time, here's what I'm going to try:

1) Breathe - This always works - for both me and my daughter. I just forget about it. Counting to 10 slowly and/or taking 10 deep breaths provides just the right amount of time to check my emotions, and break up the conflict.  When either of us remember to do it, it works. Practice really does make perfect, so I'm going to start doing it even when a disagreement doesn't escalate. If it's top of mind, I'll remember to do it in the heat of the moment.

2) Whisper - I learned this from a former elementary school teacher friend...and while I never thought it would work, it really does. When I'm trying to get the kids' attention during a difference of opinion, I'm going to lower my voice, not raise it. We are a boisterous group of gals, my daughters and me, so for me to whisper is out of character. It does get their attention, and encourages them to quiet their voices. And lowered voices almost always force a conflict to dissolve...or end in giggles. How to remember to deploy this tactic? Practice, again. I'm going to try it in the morning as the girls are getting ready. The more consistently I see the results, the more likely I'll be to use it.

3) Ask for Her Attention - Here it is in a nutshell - when I was yelling, I was trying to get my daughter's attention. I wanted to force her to hear me. Next time, instead of erupting in an effort to do that, I'm simply going to ask her to pay attention. "Do you have your listening ears on?" has worked countless times when the girls are engrossed in a good book, or knee-deep in a game of make believe. But as they grow older, particularly for my daughter who is 9 going on 19, simply asking, "Can I have your attention?" will go over well. It's certainly much more pleasant, and it teaches her a lot more about managing her own frustration.

Coincidentally, this article about managing stress arrived in my inbox the very morning the event above took place. Entitled  "Achievable Steps to Relieve Stress", it's definitely worth a read. You'll see the author's thoughts on breathing are fantastic, and many of the tips are applicable to life with a chronic illness. Even though the author's focus is exercise, her strategies for achieving a balance of health, wellness, rest, and relaxation are integral to living well with lupus. Enjoy!


Popular Posts