This week I want to give you the simplest tool I know of to react calmly when your kids are driving you crazy and you’re about to blow your top!
In fact, it’s so simple it will help you make reacting calmly an automatic habit! That way you don’t have to use valuable will-power to keep yourself calm and stop the yelling every single time your kids are difficult.
As you may know, I’ve been a mindfulness teacher for many years and when I teach people to meditate I help them make daily meditation an automatic habit. Daily meditation is so powerful that it literally changes your brain to be calmer and more focused – but you need to do it regularly.
One of the things you need to create a new habit is a trigger that leads you to automatically doing the new positive habit. For example, each day when you get up you might automatically drink a glass of water, so that could be your trigger habit that you link your morning meditation to - so that you always remember to do it.
So I’m going to give you a calming trigger right now that you can use every time your kids drive you crazy. Over time it will become a habit and this trigger will automatically help you to respond calmly to your child. What’s especially powerful about this trigger is that it involves using your body – and your body powerfully influences your mind.
So here it is!
Next time your child is being difficult and you feel frustrated I want you to:
1. Walk over to your child and squat down next to them at their eye level
2. Look into their eyes kindly and with open body language (i.e. we don’t want to be intimidating by getting in their face!)
3. If they’ll let you touch them or cuddle them you could also do this – but only if they are likely to respond well to this.
The key to the trigger is to squat down at their eye level. When you squat down it tells your body and your mind to calm down – it’s very hard to be aggressive and angry when you are squatting!! And when you look your child in the face it’s also easier to empathise with them – you’re up close to their emotion.
The other big bonus is that using this body language is how to connect with your child and it gives them the signal that you’re not a threat – and this helps them calm down.
Extra Bonus Tip – some parenting experts recommend putting your child’s eye level above your eye level as a way to calm them down. If you’re child is very upset you could experiment with this – e.g. sit on the floor and seat them on the bed slightly above you.
I’m sure this is not the first time you’ve considered squatting or sitting down at your child’s eye level! My goal here is to give you a trigger habit that helps you stay calm – and to do it regularly so that your body starts to automatically calm down when your kids are difficult.
So try it out! If you find that it calms you and stops you from yelling, then awesome! Try it again – and again and again. Research shows that it takes up to 60 days to form a new automatic habit (i.e. that you don’t even have to think about). So keep at it and over time it will become second nature.
By the way, obviously not all situations are suitable for doing this – if your kids are running away and you need to stop them, for example, it’s not the right time for this! But your common sense will tell you when it’s good to use this calming trigger.
Wishing you calm in your household when you need it most :-)
PS I do a regular weekly video in the Feed the Parent Facebook group so if you’re not already in there, go here and join up. This week’s topic was about this calming trigger and next week I’ll be talking about Shifting the Dynamic from Conflict to Calm with your kids. See you there!