Fight nice: 13 relationship tips for parents of young children
The heat of the moment is when we say things that can really damage intimacy. Here are some tips for staying calm, even amid the chaos that often defines life with young children.
- Declare a zero tolerance policy on the out-of-control temper. You must decide, for yourself, that behaving this way is simply not okay. Remind yourself that it is indeed possible to manage your emotions.
- Think back to times when you were successful at controlling your anger. Maybe you bit your tongue rather than hollering at your boss. Or you were just about to let it fly at your husband when your in-laws called and, suddenly, you couldn't believe the sweetness of your own voice. Proof positive that we all have the power to change our own moods, whenever we wish.
- Discover your "anger triggers." Keep a journal for those times when you feel like you're ready to fly off the handle. Do you notice any patterns...time of day, hunger level, lack of exercise, a full calendar? Even noise from a TV or radio can contribute to a feeling of over-stimulation, which can set off an emotional explosion.
Create a nurturing environment for yourself
- Take care of yourself. We're more likely to react to a situation - rather than to simply act - when we haven't gotten enough sleep or we haven't been eating right. Start your day with a light breakfast that includes carbohydrates and protein. Then continue to eat for energy throughout the day.
- Daily exercise provides a physical release to help you control anxiety and aggression throughout the day.
- A regular routine of prayer and meditation can calm a chaotic mind. Sit quietly for at least 15 minutes each day. Practice a few yoga stretches when things get tense.
- Decide how you'll deal with certain situations before they arise. What makes you want to blow your top? Determine how you'll handle those things beforehand - while you're calm.
In the heat of the moment
- Take a few deep breaths. Diaphragmatic breathing helps reduce stress This will also give you a time-out, long enough to make a rational assessment of the situation and to help you regain a sense of control.
- Visualize yourself as the cool, calm person you strive to be. Whom do you know who embodies these traits? Imagine this person's reaction to the situation.
- Stop. Think. Then act. Remind yourself of the importance of keeping yourself under control. If you feel anger building inside, release it. Or pray for a new way to perceive the situation.
- Consciously lower your voice. Yelling will only make your spouse more defensive. A soft tone says you're in control.
- Don't catastrophize. Resist the temptation to blow something out of proportion. Avoid using the words "always" and "never" when you talk to yourself and when you talk to other people.
- Distract yourself. Is there any way you can laugh about the situation? Ask yourself: what is the real significance of the situation that triggered my rage? Choose your battles carefully.