3 Tips for Flustered Parents

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Parenting is equal parts the greatest job in the world and the most difficult.  It is full of miraculous moments and milestones that just might melt your heart, but it is also a full-time, lifelong job with no vacation or sick days.

It’s tiring.

When the days are great, they’re really great.  But when the days are bad, they can be downright overwhelming.

Sleepless nights, temper tantrums, limit testing, picky eating, and talking back are all examples of common parenting concerns that can cause a mom to feel flustered (and that’s just a small sample).  With multiple kids come multiple obstacles and from there the exhaustion just multiplies. 

When the days are great, they’re really great.  But when the days are bad, they can be downright overwhelming.

Yelling is a fairly common reaction to the powerful combination of exhaustion and frustration.  When anger, frustration, and anxiety build, people yell.  But yelling, in general, doesn’t solve the problem.  It will likely scare the kids into quieting down or running to the safety of their bedrooms.  It might help you get your feelings out, at the expense of your little ones,  but it will most likely leave you feeling guilty and more upset than whatever initially triggered your frustration.

Sarcasm is another common defense against parental frustration.  In an effort to keep from yelling, some parents mutter passive aggressive statements about their children, often within earshot.  While most young children do not yet have the ability to decode these mixed messages, they can understand voice tone and facial cues.  When you get right down to it, sarcasm is used to sugarcoat hurt feelings.  For kids, this often results in intense feelings of shame.

What can moms do when the going gets tough?  Below are a few parenting tips for keeping your cool during those difficult parenting moments that just might threaten to send you over the edge.

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Evaluate your feelings:

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Part of the job of growing up is testing limits, exploring boundaries, and sometimes even breaking a few rules.  If kids didn’t engage in these behaviors once in a while, you would worry about their abilities to assert their needs and stand up for themselves.  But still, it can be very frustrating for the one in charge.

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Take a minute to evaluate where your feelings are coming from.  Are you mad that your child didn’t listen or are you really just completely exhausted and can’t handle one more thing? 

Take a minute to evaluate where your feelings are coming from.  Are you mad that your child didn’t listen or are you really just completely exhausted and can’t handle one more thing?  Are you upset that water spilled all over the floor, or are you worried about some financial matter that doesn’t actually have anything to do with the kids?

Cue yourself to stop and think before jumping in by saying, “What am I really angry about right now?”

At times, our physical state and emotions about grownup things can cloud our ability to react to our kids in an appropriate manner.  When we take a moment to think about, and even write down, our own feelings, we gain some much-needed perspective before overreacting.

Take a break:

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Moms are on call 24/7 with no end in sight.  There is always something that needs attention and very little opportunity to just check out and recharge.  The result of this is exhaustion and, at times, resentment.  It’s ok to say that.  You love your children more than anything, but they are tiring. 

Forget about time outs for the kids, the truth is that moms need time outs at times.  Give yourself the break that you need before you react in anger or frustration by simply saying, “Mommy needs to sit down and think for a few minutes.”  Make sure the kids are safe and engaged in some activity and then simply check out for three minutes.  Try relaxation breathing and try to come up with a few solutions to the problem before returning to the scene of the frustration.

 Talk it out:

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Moms are allowed to have feelings.  We go to great lengths to hide our negative feelings from our kids at times, but that often backfires.  Anger builds over time and eventually it all spills out.

Talk your way through a frustrating experience.  In a calm voice, label your emotions, point out the source of the frustration, and ask for input about solving the problem.

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Kids are capable of understanding that their actions can affect others, even mom.  When delivered in a calm tone without sarcasm, the information can help kids understand where they went wrong and figure out solutions for the future.

 How do you cope with the frustrating moments of parenting?

{Related: Summer Bucket List for Moms}

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3 Tips for Flustered Parents

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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1 comment

  1. Danielle says:

    Good article. Need a break this week?

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