There’s nothing I love more that morning cuddles with my children. Dozing in that peaceful place with little hands snuggled around me.
Except… I have 4 kids and the minute child number 2 clambers in, the wriggling begins. It’s 6:45 and I feel like I’m being attacked by an octopus with 8 arms AND 8 legs. (Although my oldest has taken to avoiding morning cuddles but 12 arms and legs is still plenty!)
Did you catch that word? ATTACKED.
That’s how it feels. My primitive senses are on “alert”. Soon to escalate to “fight”. Which essentially means yelling at my kids to stop it and behave!
Apparently it’s way more fun poking your sibling (metaphorically or not) than lying still enjoying the tranquility of the morning. And we all know it can be really annoying.
Please, someone tell me what fixing your kid takes!
FIXING YOUR KID STARTS WITH YOU
A few years ago, I started my “stop yelling at my kids journey”.
It didn’t start like that. I came to realize how stressed myself and my husband were. In fact, he was so stressed that he became unwell. Which of course added to the stress!
Eventually he was diagnosed with reflux. I am 100% convinced that the stress of 4 small kids had a large part to play.
It was about this time of total overwhelm that I decided to take a long hard look at my life. I immersed myself in parenting books and courses.
What came out was a journey that I hadn’t expected.
A journey of self discovery.
What started out as me wanting to teach my kids to behave ending with me learning about my own brain. And how and why I got upset with my kids.
What I came to realize was that taking care of myself (on all levels) was the secret to not yelling at my kids.
When we’re tired and worn out, everything and anything will make us upset.
When we practice self care, we have the energy to attend to our kids. (And yes, kids can be annoying. They like to “poke the lizard”, that primitive part of our brain.)
I always aspired to be a “fun and humorous” parent. But that’s impossible when you’re exhausted, worn down and feel like yelling.
(Side note: Using the robot voice is a good way to act fun when really you want to scream.)
When you start to look after yourself… by which I mean really look after yourself, not just get to bed on time once a week…you’ll begin to feel Fit and Fabulous. (I love those words so much I named my podcast “Fit and Fabulous”.)
HOW DO YOU START TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF?
There are so many areas that you need to think about. Sleep, food, exercise, mindfulness.
Before you get overwhelmed, the best place to start is by having a “brain tidy up”. A what??
A spring clean of all those ideas that are making you feel like yelling in the first place!
Have you ever heard of the thought/ emotion / action circle?
Your thoughts lead to emotions which lead to actions which in turn lead to thoughts.
You can access this circle anywhere. In the above example, I’m being triggered by my emotions. But the place we have most control over is our thoughts.
You can think yourself out of anger and frustration!
That might sound mind blowing but it’s true.
It also doesn’t normally happen overnight. It’s a journey that starts with one small step.
That small step is to observe yourself. Find out what thoughts are driving your emotions and actions.
WHAT ABOUT IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT?
That all sounds like great stuff, but what about when you’re cross and upset? You want to shout, yell, let off steam. Perhaps even hit your child.
You are human after all!
This time is really difficult! The best thing to do is to breath deeply until all those emotions have stopped overwhelming you.
It sounds like nothing but it’s super effective.
I practice deep breathing with my kids as we walk to school. Partly to show them how to do it. Partly to practice when I’m not angry. But often because they’re doing something that is niggling at me. (That “whinge” voice for 20 minutes is enough to drive anyone crazy!)
MY LAST TIP
Observing yourself has to come from a place of love. We are all human. We are all driven by emotions. We all get cross and angry.
Beating ourselves up about “not being perfect” isn’t going to work. You have to observe yourself with love and compassion so that you can make changes to the way you behave next time.
THE END OF THE STORY?
My kids are busy wrestling in my bed. I know that I’m being triggered. I’m can feel my frustration rising. It’s time to get up for school.
I breathe deeply, smile at my children and tell them it’s time to go and get dressed. We’re working on “being kind and polite” to each other. But that’s a conversation for another time.
Hi! I’m Orlena, mother of 4 and “retired” paediatric doctor. I’m now a life and health coach. My podcast “Fit and Fabulous” focuses on how to avoid disease through diet and lifestyle. As well as how to feel fit and fabulous! Check out “Letting Go of Anger” to continue the conversation about feeling angry and frustrated. And finding calm and happiness.
It’s hard to think that maybe our kids are just kids and we need to make some changes in ourself to calm our own hearts and minds, before we go looking to “fix” everyone else. So good, Orlena! Thanks!