Keeping Your Cool

Parenting

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Time to build a mutually rewarding relationship with your child and be the parent you want to be

6 fail-safe tips to keep you and your family sane over the holidays

My son was crying, he’s just SO tired. He really didn’t want to go to school and would have been happy to curl up in a ball under his duvet and hide the day away.

And who could blame him, don’t we all?

What with the school plays, pantomimes, shopping and the excitement of Christmas… it’s enough to get us all stressed out.

Then there are too many late nights, a house full of extended family and out of whack routines that can bring out the worst in all our children.

And if you have a more explosive child, it’s like a ticking time bomb. Ready for a megawatt outburst of too much overwhelm and emotions.

Want to know what keeps me and my kids sane over the next few weeks?

HAVE PLENTY OF DOWNTIME

I know the parties I say “yes” to and the days out with family are better enjoyed when it’s interspersed with quiet time and lazy mornings.

I remind myself, I don’t have to do it all. I don’t have to go to every party I’m invited to, I don’t have to go on ALL the long wintery walks with friends and family if I’m too dang tired. And that’s OK.

Children who are more sensitive/more reactive need more downtime that we think. If you’re staying with family for a few days, these children need to have more 1-2-1 time away from the crowds. It helps them reset and unwind.

SELF-CARE

I’m not talking about taking a day off and hitting the spa. Although that would be nice. (Hint to my husband!)

I’m talking about checking in with yourself throughout the day and assessing your mood.

Feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and stressed? Recognising how you’re feeling and taking accountability for your actions, you’re less likely to take it out on your kids.

When we’ve flipped our lid, we’re in our reactive brain, we are not thinking rationally- this is when we act and say things we later regret. It’s better to calm down first.

Take that moment to pause. You can then respond to the situation rather than react to it.

CHANGE YOUR GOOGLES

Hands up who’s got a more reactive child? One that can go from 0-60 in seconds? Yes, these children can be more challenging and especially when they act up in front of family members. (palm face)

I want you to remember one important fact. – Children will do well if the can.

Let’s pause and re-frame our child’s behaviour. Swap the spoilt, rude and ungrateful for overwhelmed, reactive and highjacked by their emotional brain.

If you see your child as HAVING a hard time rather than GIVING YOU a hard time. It will help you stay empathic, calm and not take their behaviour personally.

‘SHOULD’ A LITTLE WORD THAT GETS US STUCK.

Let’s face it, your child is going to have a tantrum, they are going to bicker over the T.V control or who is sitting in the front seat of the car, or fight over who gets to pour brandy over and light the Christmas pudding. (or is that just my kids?)

They are kids and they are going to do childish things.

When you look at their behaviour and the word SHOULD pop into your head. Pay attention. This little word gets you stuck.

They should know better, they should just behave… When our expectations don’t match our reality, this is what leads to our discontent.

It is not our children’s behaviour that gets us all worked up, it’s the fact we think they should or can do any better in that moment.

Now! this is not to say we don’t have rules and boundaries. This is not permissive parenting, people!

When we accept what is. Right now. We get to support our children to meet our rules and boundaries.

SET UP FOR SUCCESS

Children need to know what you expect of them, don’t just leave them to guess what you want them to do. In other words.

Set up for success.

Talk about what is expected when visiting family. Ask them what they should do if they don’t like a present they are given, or what to do if they don’t like the over boiled sprouts at Grandma’s Christmas lunch… plan and come up with ideas together.

Have realistic expectations for your children. You know your child best. Don’t set them up to fail and then blame them…

When my daughter was 3 we went to visit extended family for Christmas lunch, there were many children, family and friends and the kids were having a whale of a time. When it came to lunch the children we expected to sit down at the end of the table together. I knew my daughter would not be able to manage sitting still without my support and guidance. So I didn’t put her in that situation, I made sure I sat next to her.

CONNECT MORE

When it all gets manic and the children are acting up. TAKE A PAUSE, STOP and CONNECT.

Too often we are told to ignore the bad and praise the good. I had a well-meaning family member tell me once, that perhaps less attention when my daughter was upset would teach her better behaviour.

I have to tell you, this is the EXACT opposite of what our children need.

Connection activates our thinking brains, it resets our attention system and impulsive control. The exact things our children do need to calm down and behave better.

When chaos descends on my family, and it’s sure going to happen. I take time to connect. I take my child away to another room for quiet time and cuddles.

And isn’t that what the holiday season is all about? Love, acceptance and connection.

So, this morning, with my son dubious about even getting to school, I drove him there, he usually cycles but it IS rather chilli out there!

Do you have any fail-safe tips to keep you and your family sane over the holidays?

Much love,

Camilla