Keeping Your Cool



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

Staying Calm With Difficult Family Members

Maybe you’re getting the car loaded up ready for a trip to visit family or maybe like me, ready to host a family Christmas.

Feeling excited or stressed?

This time of year can become difficult to navigate with family members you might not have seen in a while or drive you up the wall. (That reminds me of a time when my daughter was young and I said a family member was driving me up the wall, and she said “what wall mummy?”)

Maybe you have a family member who’s the ‘perfect’ parent, even though they don’t have kids. Telling you what you should do when your child invariably has a meltdown.

Maybe your parents just don’t ‘get’ how you’re raising your children and are still very old school. You may feel judged by your choices.


1. See the best of their intentions

When a family member scolds my child, although I don’t agree with how they do it, I can see behind their actions and realise they’re doing it for the right reason. This was how they were raised and they’re doing what they know.

This doesn’t mean you should let it go, or don’t step in.

When you acknowledge their intentions and show understanding you stay a lot calmer and better able to deal with the situation.

2. Take that pause

Do not react in the moment. Chances are emotions are running high and you’ve been highjacked by your emotional brain. – It’s in times like these we say and do things we later regret.

Go get a glass of water, some fresh air or count to ten in your head while breathing slowly. BTW. If you’re counting to ten and still fuming it won’t work as well as if you’re thinking happy thoughts.

At the end of the day, you can only control your behaviour. You can’t make other family members act the way you want.

This puts you in charge of your reactions.

3. What you focus on grows.

I know just how challenging a difficult family member can be. And often times you focus on what you don’t like, the things that go wrong when you’re together or how they make you feel.

Maybe you’re working yourselves up before you’ve even got together. Replaying over all the difficult times in your head. Your heart is pumping and you’re stressed before anything has even happened.

By focusing on what you do like about this family member, you’re not going into a situation already worked up.

4. A difference of opinion is not an argument.

Oh my! In difficult situations, I have to remind myself this!
It is so easy to get into arguments and trying to prove ourselves right by make the other person wrong.

You can be right and they can be right.

Your actions are formed by your perceptions, values, expectations, judgments and beliefs. When you truly believe what you do, you don’t need to go about proving it by trying to convince others.

“Thank you. I value your opinion.” While calmly stepping in to take charge and changing the subject.

5. Setting limits in a kind way.

You are the parent and you have the last say in how you want to raise your children. And that means that yes, sometimes you have to step in and take charge.

You don’t need to lecture or tell your family member that they’re wrong. Now is not the time to educate them as to why you’ve chosen a different path.

I also believe that you can teach your children far more by modelling that other people’s actions don’t cause you to react.

That there are other people in the world that don’t act in the way we would like. And that says more about them than us.

If the atmosphere gets too tense, remember to take a break. Get out of the house if you can or take your children to another room. Smile and breathe… it’s not long to go till Christmas is over!

Taking control of your own reactions is no easy feat. It does take practice and being more mindful in the moment. I can guarantee though it will put you back in the driver’s seat and make for a much calmer Christmas.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Much love,