Burning Up

My son started full time school this year and while I knew it would be a challenge for him, I didn’t expect it to be quite so taxing on the whole family as well.

When everyone in the household is tired patience can wane, tempers can flare and it’s only a matter of time before someone snaps.

One morning it began with a toothbrush. My new full time schooler decided he didn’t want to use his electric toothbrush. And when children are tired, they quite often can’t see reason or regulate their emotions so our bathroom became meltdown central.

1. Acknowledge his feelings but also don’t allow angry behaviour.
It is important for my son to know it’s ok for him to feel angry. Anger is an important emotion. Some anger is definitely justified. But I won’t allow him to hurt his brother or anyone else in our house and it is not an excuse to be rude either.
“It’s ok to be angry but you’re not allowed to hit your brother.”

2. Demonstrate appropriate anger management yourself.
As grown ups, many of us probably assume we have learned to regulate our emotions by now. I didn’t realise that I wasn’t very good at this until I needed to start helping my child with it! One of the best ways to teach your child how to cope with anger is by demonstrating how you deal with your own emotions when you’re angry. If my son watches me lose my temper (which he has unfortunately witnessed at times) he will most likely do the same. It is definitely harder to maintain calm than yelling and letting off steam. But it is far better in the long run.

3. Teach some coping techniques.
Kids need to learn appropriate ways to deal with these big emotions. “Before you hit your brother, walk away” or “go stamp your feet in your room”. If they feel better going outside, help them to think of that as go-to for calming down. Or maybe even ask them to think of some ideas.

4. Never withhold love and cuddles.
Children must know they are loved no matter what. Sometimes beneath the tiredness, anger and attitude lies a need for feeling loved. A cuddle can do wonders.

Lastly, none of us are perfect (oh I wish). So when we do mess up, it’s important to acknowledge it so our children know we don’t agree with how we acted. And remember, tomorrow is always a new day!

We might try the manual toothbrush from now on…

     Paula Miller, Creative Leader

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