I believe in gentle parenting. I do not believe in yelling at, or shaming my children.
That said…nobody is perfect. I definitely lose my cool at times, and I yell. I would love to tell you that it never happens and that my parenting is right out of a child psychology textbook, but that would be like me telling you that I had a million dollars. It’s just not the truth. So, when I do lose my patience and yell, I remember these 5 steps to reconnect with my kids. After all, more than just about anything else I can teach them, I want them to know that people make mistakes and that that’s ok, the important thing is how you handle it afterwards and how you can try not to make the same mistake again.
Step 1: Breathe
Take a step back. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Gather your thoughts and calm yourself down. You might need to physically walk out of the room for a moment to do this, but you can’t move on past this step until you are calm.
Step 2: Explain
Now you might not agree with this one, some parents don’t feel like they should owe their kids an explanation ESPECIALLY if they did something worth being yelled at. But, you have created a teachable moment here, use it. For example, my son recently threw the tv remote across the living room. I yelled. He began making excuses, and we argued. Once I had taken a breath, I explained to him that throwing things is not allowed in our house, and that if he is upset by something he can use his words and I will listen. If I hadn’t followed up, he certainly would have gotten the point that I was mad, but he might not necessarily have known how to change his behavior so that he can make a better choice the next time he is angry.
Step 3: Apologize
Despite the wrongdoing that prompted me to yell, I always apologize. I don’t feel that it is a fair way to treat people and I would not want my kids to think that it’s acceptable. Additionally, it’s an example to your children that it’s ok to admit when you’re wrong and say ‘I’m sorry’.
Step 4: Move on
To me, this is the most important step in reconnecting. Use physical affection, give them a hug or rub their back and let your child know that it’s over. Once you have discussed the issue and apologized, it’s time to drop it and let it go. Force a smile on your face and find an activity that you can do together or change the topic of conversation.
Step 5: Forgive yourself
Parenting can wear on even the strongest of people. It tests our patience and can make us feel week and tired. But I can assure you that a lapse in patience does not make you a bad parent and you have not ‘screwed up’ your child; but you have created an opportunity to strengthen your relationship and connect with your child. Take advantage of that moment.