React With Tact

December 7, 2008 by  
Filed under Communication

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At some point in a parent’s life, they all do it. And in this case, “they” means the kids.

Set on pushing the limit—and every emotional button possible—children will pull items off a store shelf. They’ll argue with their siblings, fight in the backseat or talk back.

And then, after asking them to stop a million times, threatening to turn off the television or pull the car over, the parent simmers, reaches a boiling point, then explodes.

The parent loses control.

“When I ask parents how they handle their own anger, they get a wake up call and say, ‘Oh, I yell or slam doors,’ said Dr. Vicki Panaccione, a Melbourne child psychologist and parenting specialist.

“These parents are bringing their children in to see me for things the children aren’t allowed to do, but the parents are doing the same things,” she said. “Parents have to understand they are the role models, and if they don’t want children to yell and curse, they can’t do it, either.”

Panaccione agrees when parents lose their tempers, they end up on the same playing field as the child.

“Now you have two children sticking their tongues out at each other,” she said. The child is feeling out of control and now the grown-up is not in control.”

When parents need to gain composure, a time out to cool off (is advised). Or count to 10 before addressing the situation. Or, in a calm voice, simply outline the child’s choices and consequences and follow through with it.

Yet, realize that different approaches work for different children.

“There is no book to read or no one way to do it, because different things work for different people,” Panaccione said. “The main philosophy is to keep your self under control.”

Parent Tips for Staying Calm:

• Remember that parents are role models. If you vent anger by yelling or slamming doors, most likely your children will do it, too. Children copy what they see.
• Take a breath and count to 10 before doing anything. You are in control.
• Don’t get into a screaming match with children. Dealing with a child’s behavior, parents need to remain calm and in control. By losing control, parents lose their authority and respect.
• When a situation erupts, tell the child, “I’m going to think about this and get back to you,” which can cause children to think about what’s happening. It also allows you to settle down before making a decision.
• It’s important for parents to take timeout for themselves or utilize outlets for their own stress. Often parents are already stressed and as a result, over-react to a child’s behavior.
• Be sure your children have their own outlets for venting anger and frustration, such as shooting basketball or writing in a journal. Children typically act out because they have no other way to relieve their stress.

As published in Florida Today.
Florida Today

© MMVI Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D.

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