3 Ways to Make Peace After Yelling at the Kids
Hard truth: Even parents and caregivers who are usually amazing at keeping their cool are having a hard time these days.
It’s no surprise as to why. With social distancing in effect in many areas of the country and people falling sick from COVID-19, millions of families have been asked to shift their lifestyles dramatically. Not only are many people working from home, trying to make deadlines, and look half-way presentable on video-conference calls with the boss, but so many of their kids are home, too, because of widespread school closures. And when everyone’s in close quarters dealing with feelings of anxiety, fear, or even just confusion? Tempers can run hot.
In an ideal world, we’d stay calm, cool, and collected. But the world is far from ideal. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you yelled at the kids or overreacted to bad behavior on their part — but don’t brush your actions under the rug like they never happened, either.
Here are three ways you can make peace with your kiddo and move on as a stronger, more resilient family unit.
1Acknowledge You Messed Up
Apologies are super important here. You might think admitting a mistake to your child will make them think less of you or question your authority — but that’s far from the truth. It’s your job as a grown-up to manage your emotions, but that can be hard, especially in such stressful times. Offering an olive branch shows that you hold yourself to a high standard and that, while you’re not perfect, you care about how you treat people (especially those you love!) and want to do better. Bonus? Your apology will help her or him be a better person, too, because you’ll be showing them how to take responsibility for their actions in a thoughtful way, while reinforcing the idea that attacking others is never the right way to solve a problem.
2Ask How They're Feeling
Younger children might feel frightened when you yell, while older children might be more likely to feel anger or resentment — but don’t assume anything. After saying you’re sorry, tell them it makes you feel bad when someone yells at you, then ask how it made them feel when you lost your temper. Hear them out, then tell them you love them and that you are always on their team, even though you messed up. Sometimes just talking about difficult feelings — and many people are having those these days — can make kids feel better.
3Come Up with Strategies to Do Better Next Time
Now more than ever it’s important to work together and support each other as a family unit, so coming up with ways to avoid future flare-ups is vital. Suggest some ideas that everyone can use if they feel like they’re going to lose their temper. From taking a deep breath and counting to five before reacting in a stressful situation to leaving the room for a moment to calm down, there are many actions you can take to keep things from escalating. If your child's cooperation has been less than awesome, resist the urge to blame your freak-out on their behavior (you are responsible for your own actions, after all!) but remind them that this is a challenging time for everyone, and that you all need to work together to stay strong. That means listening for directions, helping when they can, and being the best they can be overall.
Mainly, remember to cut yourself a little slack. The days, weeks, and even months ahead may be filled with challenges unlike any we’ve seen before. Not every day of parenting is going to be perfect (or even close), and that’s okay. We’re all doing the best we can and hoping for a brighter, healthier tomorrow for our families and the world.