OK In Health - Parenting Tips

Keeping Your Cool in the Heat of the Moment - June 2021

By Maggie Reigh, Kelowna, BC

Children and teens are experts at pressing their parents’ buttons. Most of them have honed their button pressing skills over the span of their lifetime – for some of them it may be their greatest and most cherished accomplishment! And if you’re like most parents, including myself, you probably “lose it” on occasion. And you probably feel guilty later… and then lose it again, and so on. It becomes an established pattern and guilt-tripping ourselves about it is not helpful. In fact, guilt keeps the pattern going because it makes us feel bad and stresses us out even more, and so we blow again.

So how does one break this pattern? First, stop and really recognize the toll it takes on you and your children. During one of our 9 Ways to Bring out the Best in You and Your Child Leadership Training sessions, two facilitators were exploring the concept of punishment verses effective discipline. In a staged demonstration, suddenly one of the facilitators blew up at a participant. “Sherry! How many times have I told you to quit talking! Now you get to your room, right now! I’m tired of these interruptions,” she bellowed and hauled Sherry up off the couch and down the hall to her room.

Now I knew that this was a staged demonstration from the beginning. Yet I was not prepared for the onslaught to my nervous system. I shook for half an hour after a shocked Sherry was hauled away. Wow! What a reminder of how that feels even to be in that environment, even if I was not the one being punished. Even the anticipation of the impending blow up sets children into a state of guardedness and tension.

So what can we do instead to keep our cool in the heat of the moment?

  1. The first step is to notice.

    Become more aware of what’s happening inside your body, in your emotional and mental systems on a regular basis so that you can begin to notice when you are ready to blow. At first, you will probably blow before you notice it is building. That is okay. Celebrate that you have noticed and stop. If need be, yell, “Run!” and let your children clear out of there! Don’t tell yourself you can’t stop. If the phone rings or your neighbour appeared at the door, you would get a handle on your temper in a hurry. So cap it.
  2. Calm down.

    You will still have lots of e-motion (energy in motion) running throughout your body.
    • Breathe deeply. Imagine you are breathing through your heart. Know that as you do so you are calming the heart and the heart has the ability to calm every system in your body.
    • Seek to give your feelings a name and focus on the sensations inside your body. Simply allow them to be there and stay focused in your body. Continue to breathe through your heart and avoid getting into stories inside your head.
    • To add further calm, try this Brain Gym technique: cross your legs, then cross one wrist over the other, put your palms together and interlock your fingers together. Now pull your hands under, up and inward, toward your heart, hugging your arms to your body. Continue to breathe through your heart.
  3. Focus inwardly and imagine you are in a peaceful place.

    One way to shift your state of being to a calmer state is to inwardly ask what Dr. Monica Garaycoechea calls Creative Questions. These are questions designed to help us tap into our natural state of wellness. For example, ask with child-like curiosity, “Why can I relax and allow this moment to be? How do I feel when I am peaceful? How have I shifted from being agitated to peaceful?” Take your time with each question and feel the response with your heart, allowing and accepting whatever response shows up. You don’t have to be peaceful before you ask the question; the question draws the state to you. Try it…Practice feeling yourself in this place of peace on a regular basis.
  4. Make your decision on how to act from this place of peace.

    It may help to bring your hands to your forehead. This draws the blood to the frontal lobes so that you can think more clearly. Keep your vision of how you want your family to remember you at your 75th birthday firmly in mind as you make your decision to act.*

    Your frustrations and blow ups will likely not end immediately. Give yourself credit for the hard work you are doing in re-programming your reactions. These internal patterns are deeply seated. The more you practice checking inside and relaxing and calming yourself at all times, the fewer blow ups you will experience. Take time for yourself with yoga, meditation, work-out sessions, nature walks… anything that helps you to relax. (Yes I know, it isn’t easy to find time for yourself, but when you make time and learn to stay calm everyone benefits, and eventually you will save time that would otherwise be spent dealing with the fall out from the blow ups. )

    And please don’t waste time guilt-tripping yourself. Ranting and raving inside your head will keep the same energy circulating and building! When we ask, “Why can’t I get a handle on this? What’s the matter with me? How could I be such a horrible mother/father,” the universe conspires to bring us more situations that match the energy we are putting out. Try the Creative Questions instead, and celebrate that you have noticed the energy building. Double celebrate if you’ve prevented the blow up! Focus on the love you have for your children and act in accordance with how you want them to remember you.

    * The Family Vision Statement as outlined in 9 Ways to Bring out the Best in You &Your Child gives you specific information on how to “be the change you seek” (Ghandi) in your family, and to guide your decision making from your own internal reference point.

Maggie ReighMaggie's Bio: Maggie Reigh is an international speaker, playshop facilitator, and storyteller, as well as a certified hypnotherapist. She is the author of the book and program series '9 Ways to Bring Out the Best in You & Your Child', and of the family activity package, 'Taking the Terror Out of Temper Tantrums'. Maggie specializes in helping people to release deeply embedded thought and behavior patterns that no longer work so that they can create joyful, positive, and meaningful relationships with self and others. Contact Maggie through her website. Lake Country BC - Maggie Reigh Website - Email

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