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How to Role
Model During Those Stressful Moments
Question: How is the best
way for a parent to handle his/her own behavior with children
at home during stressful situations? Answers...
by Jodie Lynn
voice low in stressful situations.
Tune in to your personal
tone of voice. Try to avoid blowing your top. Practice active
listening and if you feel like you are going to explode, it may
help to leave the room, count to ten, say a prayer, take a walk,
or to do all of the above.
Tell your children
you need to leave the room for your own time out. Depending on
their ages and the specific situation, a kitchen egg timer may
need to be utilized to let them know how long you will be gone.
Set it for a certain amount of time and put it in plain sight
where it can be seen. If you can only take five minutes, so be
it. It's better than none. Check a clock or watch to make sure
you know when the timer will go off.
Go into another
area, close the door and look right in the mirror and say all
the things you wished you could say to them. This is a great
stress buster. (This works wonders for "telling off,"
others as well: spouse, sister, boss, etc.)
B. Pop in a
tape or CD.
Keep a CD/cassette player
already set up in your time out spot. Play your favorite
music and take a break away from the current situation. Try to
focus on the music. it can completely change your attitude. Become
a little daring, dance or sing along. There's a little bit of
musical talent in all of us; if not, fake it.
C. Plan ahead.
If there's another adult
around, take a little longer break. Make up a group of words
or some sort of signal to let your spouse or other adult know
when you need to take a break. Try saying, "Time-Out-For-Me,"
while pointing to yourself. It will be clear you need time away
from the situation -- now.
If weather permits,
get out and go for a walk. Try to take the music with you or
sing your own songs while walking. If there's no one else in
the house and you need to get out, try calling a friend or neighbor.
Responsible teenagers can always be utilized; keep a list by
the phone and call them.
D. Try the unexpected
with your children -- try humor and get silly.
Release tension by singing
your answers or requests to your children. For example: When
my children begin to complain and cry, I sing the "Waa-Waa"
song. Sing it to familiar tunes while imitating facial expressions
of a not-so-happy camper. Begin to march in place, swing your
arms and smile. Yes, I said to smile. Since there is only one
phrase in the song, "waa-waa," keep repeating it over
and over to the same tune. The kids can't help but to laugh,
and before long, they will join in.
is having fun and calming down, it is also building self-esteem,
probably the single most important element to a happy and healthy
adult life. This "off the wall" approach says it's
okay to vent angry feelings as long as no one gets hurt and even
provides an acceptable way to release pent-up energy. The child's
self-worth in feeling comfortable enough to voice an opinion
has not been damaged. And, best of all, it shows everything is
not as serious as previously thought and sends a clear message
that it's okay to laugh at ourselves. (So what if it sounds goofy,
E. Stop talking,
and let your fingers do the work.
Write notes to your children.
Stick them up where they can be noticed and will be read. A teacher
told me she clipped one of my newspaper columns out and mailed
it to her teenager. He never knew where it came from and thought
one of his friends or teachers were trying to tell him something.
He got the message, and since his mother never mailed him letters,
she was never suspected of sending it.
If your children
can't read, draw a picture. Most children know what the happy
face and unhappy face look like. They will surely ask you about
it. Sit down and write out your own feelings in a personal letter
to yourself, or it can be addressed to the one who is making
you upset. This is for you to keep and/or throw away. It really
does make a person feel better. (I love to sit down and color.
And sure, I use my kid's crayons. They've got such cool shades
of crayons out today; it's fun to use them and color in their
coloring books.) Try your hand at painting. Turn on some of your
favorite music and color or paint away, let all the tension and
frustrations flow out.
Go ahead, try
some of these "nerve-tamers," there's a big kid inside
all of us!
- Jodie Lynn is a nationally syndicated columnist
of Parent to Parent, and author of Mommy
- CEO (Constantly Evaluating Others), Five Golden Rules. She invites you to enter her Mother's Day contest
and spread a little cheer. See details at her web site: Parent