Parenting: How to Stay Cool as a Parent
Dr. Brad Schwall, PCC Executive Director, with:
Michelle Bledsoe, LPC, RPT, and Tonya Burton, LPC-I
When children's frustration rises, the heightened frustration of the parent only exacerbates the situation. When we are angry, we are often angry that our child is not complying or being respectful. Staying calm ourselves allows are message to be heard more clearly. We can still be firm and direct, but "throwing our own tantrum" only makes the problem worse. We interviewed two PCC clinicians who work with children, teens, parents, and families to share a few quick tips.
Dr. Schwall: What are your tips for parents to help them to stay cool when their kids are getting frustrated?
Michelle Bledsoe, LPC, RPT: Well, I think first it's important to remember that it's okay for kids to have feelings, it's okay for them to be frustrated, and to know that you don't have to make it okay. They can have anxiety, they can have their feelings, and you tell them that, and you listen to what they need and try to provide it.
They pick up on our frustration. They pick up on our anxiety, and it seems to escalate it.
Tonya Burton, LPC-I: I would say if you have a teen or a youth that is "losing their cool" so to speak, I would take a moment with them to ask them to take a beat.
Take a breath. Help the child get in touch with what's going on with their body. What are they feeling, what emotions are they feeling, why they are feeling that? What is it that's triggering them right now?
And the parent is taking a beat too. So maybe even the adult could say, "Alright, wait a minute, let's take a beat, let's talk about what you're feeling and why." When both the parent and child calm down, the situation can be handled constructively.