Of course, you don’t need to be a child psychologist to know that calm parenting is the ideal method for your family. Yet, how do you maintain a calm parenting stance when you’re emotionally, physically, and mentally drained? How do you keep your cool when you get home from work and your infant is throwing dinner across the kitchen floor or your teenager just slammed the bedroom door in your face.
Calm parenting is a wonderful idea, but it isn’t easy to achieve. Why? Because the real world won’t wait for you to find your happy place. Parenting isn’t like going to a yoga retreat; everything happens in a split second.
You need skills and techniques for calm parenting, especially when you’re parenting over 40. So, here are some actionable tips and methods to achieve the peaceful environment that you need to make calm parenting a reality.
5 Good Tips for Calm Parenting
Take Care of Yourself
One of the best ways to take a peaceful parenting approach is to shield yourself against stress. When you’re tired, exhausted or emotionally drained, you’re more likely to react out of anger or frustration. Calm parenting starts by embodying a calm nature that can be modeled by your children.
Make sure that you get a good night’s sleep, and you eat healthy meals. Avoid drinking alcohol or taking mood altering drugs, especially when you’re planning to engage with your children. Drink plenty of water and exercise regularly. Your spouse or partner has probably been telling you these things all along, but these are the prerequisites to alleviating stress. By keeping your tolerance levels high, you won’t be tempted to react to a temper tantrum with a temper tantrum of your own. You can also treat yourself to a med spa or massage.
Keep Your Schedule Calm
Whether you have one child or a few children, your schedule is filled with tasks and activities. Many of these tasks run one into the other and create a never-ending merry-go-round of stress-inducing frenzy. Struggling to make all your family commitments can agitate everyone in your household.
You need to declutter your schedule for calm parenting. Audit all the activities that you and your children have scheduled and identify activities that might cause a great deal of stress or anxiety. If you can’t afford to eliminate those activities, then plan ahead and try to smooth out the process for everyone involved.
Change Your Perspective
Parents can easily fall victim to tunnel vision when it comes to their children. This happens when your child doesn’t seem to understand your requests or continually breaks the rules that you’ve established. You might take it personally and get frustrated trying to figure out what you’re doing wrong.
In this case, it might help to change your perspective. When speaking to your children, try to keep in mind that they’re still developing. Get down on their level physically if that helps you to understand the principle. Your children don’t have 30 to 40 years of experience like you do. They’re still figuring this whole thing out. Get out of your headspace and try to see the problem from their perspective. Rework the solution if it isn’t working and be patient.
Ask Yourself – Now or Later?
When parents struggle with creating an atmosphere of peace in their home, it can be due to a lack of flexibility. This is especially true with fathers because it’s in your nature to attack problems. You want to solve the problem and move on, but you might want to ask yourself – does this issue need to be resolved right now, or can it wait until later?
Force meets force when you’re parenting. Your children will mirror the energy that you model for them. So, it might be helpful to breathe and let a problem breathe, as well. Some problems demand immediate attention, but you build trust with your children when they know that you can peacefully hold your displeasure until the appropriate time arrives for you to handle it in a calm manner.
When you develop expectations in your family, you reduce anxiety and stress. Your children will come to rely on certain routines, certain rules, and structural norms. These structural expectations provide your children with boundaries, and it also lets them know where and when they can feel free to explore new possibilities. Without structure, you can’t relax. You’re constantly on guard and you’re going to teeter-totter between extreme parenting modalities.
Try to look closely at your household and your daily routines. Look for areas that lack clear structure. Do your kids have expectations about when they should wake up and what they should do on the weekends? Do they know your expectations about their behavior when they’re out in public? Find the chaos and combat it with calm. Put a system in place so that you can relax.
Here’s a Bonus - Find the Funny
There’s nothing worse than putting a lot of planning into your day only to have unexpected events throw a monkey wrench into the whole experience. Yet, this happens all the time. You were supposed to take the kids out to the park, but it rained. You wanted the day off to relax, but your spouse fell ill at the last minute. Your child is on her way to the spelling bee but forgot her glasses at home.
One of the keys to calm parenting is having a good sense of humor. It’s the greatest defense against a cruel twist of fate. When things go wrong, have the tenacity to just laugh at the absurdity of the whole thing. Your children will love you for it because you’re sending them a message that no problem is ever going to be greater than your capacity to resolve it. They can always come to you, and you’ll make it better, even if that means you have to sit in the mud together.
Wrapping up Calm Parenting Tips
One of the greatest unsaid and unwritten rules for calm parenting is to go with the flow. Forcing an issue will only make things worse. So, it’s important to realize when you should be authoritative and when you can afford to let things slide. In other words, don’t make everything a battle in your home.
One unique thing about the sense of calm is that it can radiate from you to your children. It has an infectious quality. So, it’s important to remember that calm parenting starts with you. Place yourself in a calm and assertive mindset. Adjust your own energy first and then you’ll have an easier time influencing the energy of your children.
For additional resources on peaceful parenting and maintaining a calm nature, check out Calm Parents, Happy Kids The Secrets of Stress-free Parenting by Dr. Laura Markham and A Calm Brain: Unlocking Your Natural Relaxation System by Dr. Gayatri Devi.
Be sure to tune into the Anxiety Therapist Podcast for unique insights into calm parenting skills and ways to reduce the anxiety of parenting.