Cool-Down Tips for Parents
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Before things reach the boiling point, try these time-tested strategies to smooth out those turbulent parenting waters that get the best of every mom and dad from time to time.

Your child has a friend over to play. You hear name-calling. "You're stupid." "You're a geek." "Well, you're a nerd." Instead of yelling an angry demand, "Just stop that right now." Offer a choice. "I hear name-calling. You have a choice: The name-calling must stop or your friend needs to go home." If you hear name-calling again, send the friend home with an apology and the hope of a better play time together tomorrow.

You walk in the door exhausted from work to the irritating sounds of your children bickering. "He ruined my pen." "I didn't mean to; it's just a cheap ol' pen anyway." "It's my favorite pen. I hate having a little brother." Instead of blaming them: "You kids are making me so mad. I don't work all day to come home to this bickering." Express your feelings: "I'm crabby. I've had a terrible day. When I hear bickering I get crabbier. Get a snack. I'm taking a bath." Often, especially with younger children, clear directions as to what you want them to be doing are important. Children know what they're not supposed to be doing, but when upset, often can't think of positive or constructive behaviors and need your suggestions and directions.

You hear your daughter insulting her stepsister who is visiting for the weekend. Instead of labeling her with an angry edge to your voice, "You're just rude and jealous," accept your child's feelings. "I understand it's difficult to share your dad when your stepsister comes for the weekend, but I can't allow you to be rude." If the rudeness continues, send her to her bedroom for some quiet time.

Your children's disagreement comes to blows. Instead of screaming an angry threat, "That hitting must stop or we won't go to the movie," state a rule: "Hitting is not allowed. Sarah, you need to empty the dishwasher; Cameron, make your bed. We'll discuss the movie selection when your chores are done and you've calmed down."

Your child is attempting homework in front of the TV. Instead of nagging: "Do your homework," "Do your homework or you won't get good grades," "You'd better do your homework or you won't get into college," assert your values: "Homework is more important than TV. The TV goes off until homework is done."

Using these techniques should help to calm the waters and make for some smooth sailing for everyone!