Keeping a Cool Head When Parenting

Keeping a Cool Head When Parenting

Being a parent can be enjoyable but at times quite frustrating. Most parents will agree there has been a time where they have lost their temper due to their child’s challenging behaviour. Such as a child who is set on the fact that he/she is not going to bed!

Here are some tips to help overwhelmed, parenting, keeping calmkeep a cool head and reduce challenging behaviour during these difficult times –

1. Understand your child’s development

Young children have not yet developed the understanding that other people have thoughts and feelings just like they do. This usually develops around age 3-4. For this reason, although it may seem like your toddler is trying to wind you up and make you angry on purpose sometimes, they are too young to fully understand how their behaviour affects you. Young children may have also not developed self-control or a sense of time. This means that they may react quite emotionally to small things, be impatient and get frustrated easily. If you have older children who you think are trying to make you angry on purpose question why they may want to do that. Does it normally lead to them getting what they want? Is it because they are upset about something else and want attention but didn’t know how to ask for it? By understanding why a child is behaving in a challenging way it helps you keep your cool and decide how to handle the situation.

2. Reduce stress and conflict

Use clear, simple commands if you are asking your child to do something. Be careful of your tone, children can be great at sensing frustration from the tone of your voice and this may further agitate them. Learn to pick your battles. If a child is answering back because they’re tired and grumpy it may be best to let it go rather than address their behaviour and have it escalate into a tantrum. It’s ok to let the small things go.

3. Avoid sarcasm, labelling, threats and criticism

When someone loses their cool it’s easy to end up talking negatively. These include phrases such as ‘you’re so selfish’ or ‘hurry up and get ready, you’re so lazy’. It is important to remember that in the short-term this will just make your child angrier and in the long-term it can potentially affect their self-esteem. Try to calmly explain to them how you feel and why in an objective way.

4. Agree on house rules and consequences

Discuss with children what you think the rules should be and why. Write them out and put them up somewhere where your children can see them. By having set rules and consequences children know what is expected of them and what will happen if they misbehave. It also means that you’ll be less likely to make harsh punishments whilst angry that you will later regret.

5. Set small goals and acknowledge good behaviour

Although consequences are sometimes necessary it is important to focus on the positives as well. Acknowledge and praise good behaviour even small things such as not talking back. By praising these good behaviours hopefully you will see an increase in them! Remember that children can be easily frustrated and are still learning self-control. Set small achievable goals, changing behaviour takes time and effort. 

6. Learn your triggers and signs that you are losing your cool

Try to become more aware of which of your child’s behaviours really frustrates you and what signs indicate that you’re getting annoyed. These signs may include a racing heart, shaking or getting sweaty. If you are more aware of when you are going to lose your cool you can actively try and keep yourself calm. 

7. Try to actively calm yourself down or walk away

If you find you are starting to lose your cool, try and look at the situation objectively and actively calm yourself down. Take deep slow breaths through your nose and out your mouth. Recite song lyrics or count backwards in your head to distract yourself from getting angry. Use positive self-talk, remember you are doing the best you can. If your child is in a place they are safe it is ok to walk away and calm down. Explain to your child that you are angry and need to calm down, you will come back and talk to them when you are calm. By showing how you deal with feeling angry and frustrated in a positive way your children will start to learn what they should do when they are frustrated and you can prevent an argument from escalating into a tantrum. 

8. Set aside time to relax

It is also important to remember to take time out. Organising a babysitting group between friends or family may help. Being a parent can be challenging and it’s ok to make mistakes. If you find you are often losing your cool and cannot calm down even after attempts to improve you may wish to seek professional help for support and advice.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you ask friends, family members or other parents for help, they may have some new ideas or strategies up there sleeve for managing challenging behaviours. Just remember that your family is unique and you will need to find out what does and does not work for you and your children.

Seeking professional help may assist if you have a specific issue or problem occurring with you and your children. If you would like further information on Perth counselling services or play therapy for children, contact us today.

Article Title: Keeping a Cool Head When Parenting
Article By: Vision Counselling and Psychology, Perth Western Australia
Web Address:
Published: 28/06/2014
Samuel, V. (2007). How to Stay Calm With Your Child. Available at: Accessed on: June 6, 2014.
Munson, J. (2014). Losing Your Temper with Your Child? 8 Steps to Help You Stay Calm. Available at: Accessed on: June 6, 2014.
Image Reference: Dollar Photo Club

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