There’s plenty we’re all doing right now to increase our stress levels. Staying home, isolating ourselves, disrupting our routines. Add in financial worries and kids who are struggling with the same things? This is one of the most difficult times in recent history for kids and their dads.
Unfortunately, this has created increased risks at home. Domestic violence and child abuse rates are going up. Thankfully, there are mental tricks you can use to prevent yourself from losing your temper in heated moments. Follow these three steps the next time you feel stressed to your limits:
1. Take a Time Out
You can’t smack a sassy mouth from the next room. You can’t glare, cuss or throw insults as easily either, so when you feel your anger amping up, make your exit. It’s okay to tell your child, “I’m sorry. I’m angry and need to think a while.”
What if you can’t leave your child alone? This is where planning helps. Pack-n-plays, baby swings, earplugs or headphones, baby monitors … these tools help you distance yourself mentally, even if you can’t be in different rooms.
2. Remember Your Reasons to Smile
This is a weird mental trick that works like magic, but it feels stupid the first time you try. It’s kind of like the advice to smile when you’re sad. It sounds ridiculous until you realize it works.
It’s good to practice this step on good days, when you’re not stressed out, in preparation for when it’s needed. Make mental lists of at least five things you think are:
End with a list of five people you admire. Your list might look like:
1. Your best friend.
2. Your first teacher.
3. A mentor at work.
4. Maya Angelou.
5. Mr. Rogers.
Once you get there, you’ll be ready to work on yourself.
3. Let the Truth Set You Free
Stress and depression have a lot in common. They’re liars that talk in absolutes. Your crying baby makes you feel powerless, like you can’t do anything right. Your sassy child makes you feel unloved and disrespected. Your kid’s shocking behavior is embarrassing and can make you feel like a bad person.
When we strike out with our words or hands, we’re trying to stop the pain. This is the step when we remind ourselves that those negative assumptions aren’t real. Counter those assumptions with evidence.
Your baby is crying, and you feel incapable. Think of five things you’ve done to provide care.
Your child is insulting you, and you feel unloved. Think of five times when they were loving.
Your kid has done something awful, and you feel like you’ve raised them wrong. Think of five ways you are a good father.
If you can’t think of a single one or can’t stop arguing the negatives, it might be time to call a counselor. Depression and anxiety are medical problems. There’s no benefit to struggling through on your own when a professional can help speed up the process.
No one is perfect, but if you’ve made it this far, you ARE a good parent and you CAN BE a good role model. You might need to get help to problem solve, but you will handle it in a way that will make you and your child proud.
This is just one way to de-escalate your temper. How do you deal with your stress levels? Be sure to leave your tips below.
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