Positive parenting: What to do after you got angry and snapped at your kids
We are knee-deep in school holidays at the moment, and while a break from routines and stress and everyday life is all sorts of lovely, can we also admit that all this time together, the long, schedule-free days, they can also be pretty flipping hard?
As in, I don't know about your children, but mine, when left to their own device and at the ages they are now, they fight. Over the silliest of things, like Barbie horses and Pokemon cards and who got slightly more apple juice in the cup than the other and whose turn it is to pick what they are watching on Netflix and a whole bunch of other seemingly silly-to-fight-over things that kids do, indeed, fight over.
And sometimes, some days, I really have to struggle to stay calm during this fighting.
Some days I am tired and the house is messy and the laundry basket is overflwoing and I have deadlines looming and I just backed the car into a pillar at the local shopping centre car park (as I was also trying to break up a fight over Pokemon EX cards at the time) and then I snap. And yell. And within seconds, feel so utterly guilty that I did so, that I didn't manage to stay calm and worry that me snapping at them will scar them for life.
And the thing is, I genuinely think I am a good mum. I know that I try my best with them and for them, I tell them I love them every single day, I am present and engaged and listen and cuddle and read and cook with them and play with them and am dedicated to raising two healthy, happy and loved humans.
It's just – sometimes kids press your buttons. And while I know that my reaction to something they do most often has more to do with how I am feeling than what they are doing, the reality is that I am just a mum, a human one, and far from perfect, and so sometimes, I snap.
And I know I am not alone – because motherhood is many things, it is amazing and beautiful and humbling – and also hard. Sometimes really, really hard.
I recently read a beautiful blog post about how to handle it when you have lost it and snapped at your kids, and I am determined to try it the next time (because I know there will be a next time – everyone's brain is pushed into “fight or flight” mode from time-to-time) I loose my cool with them.
By doing this simple step, the author argues, you will repair and reconnect your relationship with your child, and teach your kids what to do after they lose their cool.
The secret? This simple phrase:
"Let's have a do-over."
The blog author writes:
"I responded as honestly as possible before using one simple phrase. “Yes, I am angry. But the way I reacted…that wasn’t okay.” Before I could say “Let’s have a do-over,” my son patted me on the shoulder and said, “You can just try again momma.
Because this is the beauty of Language of Listening – your kids will start to surprise you in the most amazing ways. They’ll forgive you. They’ll let you know that it’s okay that you make mistakes. They’ll let you know that you can simply try again.
Together we walked back into the house cleaned up the spilled bowl of spaghetti off the white carpet, and I said, 'Let’s have a do-over!'
Then we grabbed an empty bowl, pretended it was filled to the brim with spaghetti and red sauce, and over and over again he spilled the bowl and I reacted without yelling. Then we pretended again, except this time he was extra careful not to spill the bowl. Altogether, this took less than 5 minutes."
So there you have it, mums – a 'do-over' – giving us all a chance to do things again, and do it better. And all while also teaching our children the important lesson that parents are also human – and make mistakes – and that what matters is that we apologise, and promise to do better the next time.