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Deal with your frustration...productively

Tiernan McKay is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Alive!, Occupational Health and Safety, Restaurants and Institutions, Tampa Bay and Arizona Woman. Right now, she is either ridi...

Take a deep breath

Being a mom can be frustrating. It seems our kids know just what buttons to push to set us off and those little sponges -- our children -- are just waiting to see how we'll react. Frustration probably can't be avoided... but it can be handled in a way that teaches our kids to deal properly with stressful situations.

Frustrated mom

How do you initially react when frustration sets in? Perhaps you scream, make a face and maybe even pull your hair out (literally). You may want to reconsider your actions. After all, you're kids are watching. Following are tips from the experts on how to handle frustration.

Lesson learned

Self-control is one of the most important skills a parent can teach a child and sometimes it's not an easy lesson to learn. You can spend weeks telling a child about this virtue, but unless she sees it applied, she won't truly grasp the concept. "Studies show that children who develop restraint at a young age are more successful in many ways later in life," says Meg Akabas, parenting expert and founder of Parenting Solutions. "There are many ways to foster self-control in children, but first and foremost, parents must model controlled behavior themselves because children follow our actions more than our words."

Just breathe

When kids test our patience, it's sometimes tempting to react by yelling or throwing an adult-sized temper tantrum. If this describes you, you may be exacerbating the situation without knowing it. "It is so very important not to raise our voices and yell and scream at our child," says Sharon Gilchrest O'Neill, marriage and family psychotherapist and author of A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage. "They will very quickly not hear a word you're saying and the poor reaction will continue to escalate and you will have essentially lost control of your child."

Instead, try some simple coping strategies such as "stopping in the moment and counting to ten, doing it slowly and calmly for your child to take in," suggests Gilchrest. "Or, separate yourself from your child for some period of time, so everyone can become calmer."

Talk it up

In the face of frustration, your brain may be spinning a mile a minute in an effort to control yourself, but your kids will benefit most if you talk about what you're experiencing. When you flip that switch from "I'm about to lose it" to "I can handle this," talk to your kids about it.

According to Akabas, "You might say, 'Mommy's really frustrated right now. I need to calm down because getting all upset isn't going to help. I'm going to take a deep breath and count to 10. One, two......OK, that's better.'" The next time your child feels disappointed or annoyed, he'll be inspired by your self-control and may even adopt your strategy rather than react.

Love yourself

Many times, frustration results when moms downplay their own needs or ignore them altogether. We have alot of responsibility on our shoulders, which is exactly why we need to love ourselves first. "In order to be a great parent," says O'Neill, "moms need to take care of themselves, emotionally, mentally and physically." Frazzled moms are much more prone to frustration-induced blow-ups, so don't forget to show yourself some love.

Read more about handling mommy stress


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