As the build-up to Christmas begins, we dream of cosy nights cuddled around a fairy-lit tree in a onesie, warmed by tipples and rich treats, while surrounded by gifts and carols. However, the reality often is that, what should be a time of joy and laughter usually ends up in tears and drama!
Because we are trying so hard to be perfect parents, purchasing perfect gifts, in order to make the perfect Christmas day special for everyone, frivolously spending, organising, cooking, cleaning, writing cards, wrapping gifts, amid the chaos of dirty nappies, sleepless nights, toddler tantrums or teenage angst!
Being home all day in pj’s watching movies and indulging in food and drink, may sound like a perfect day when we are stressed at work, but after a few days home with all the family, and unhelpful visitors coming to stay, the Christmas spirit soon fades and the only spirit you’ll want to feel will be in a glass with a dash over ice.
Children easily get bored, they need their tiresome routines to keep them stimulated, exercised, rested, healthy and content.
No matter how many hundreds of pounds we’ve lavishingly spent on toys and entertainment in the hope of some peace, squabbling with siblings will always be their preferred past time, especially when fuelled with sugar, late nights and too many new toys to choose from causing stimulation over load.
But there is a way to survive these Christmas holiday’s with our kids when feeling in despair or when you’re losing control of your children and don’t know how to get it back.
Stop fighting them.
Fighting against them in a constant battle about everything and feeling defeated all the time will get you nowhere.
My advice, which may surprise you is to go along with your children whenever you feel totally powerless and see what happens.
I’m not suggesting you leave your children to their own devices and let them walk all over you, encouraging them to take advantage of your apathy. I just want you to try and accept and allow their demands temporarily, while you regain your confident composure and sense of authority and self.
This will undoubtedly show your children that you’re not accepting their behaviour powerlessly. Instead, you’re showing them that you don’t mind either way how they behave.
What? I hear you shout; you most certainly do mind how they behave?
Bear with me on this. This reverse psychological approach not only confuses children somewhat, but as intended, it equips parents to deal with their childrens behaviour, trust me, it works. But it does mean letting go and going with the flow.
LETTING GO OF CONTROL
Our aim as parents should not be to control our children, but to allow them the freedom to be themselves and to grow as unique individuals.
Too much control can restrict our children’s potential to become autonomous, decision making, happy, and healthy individuals. And the reality is, we can’t control our children’s every action or emotion even if we try. It’s difficult enough trying to control our own actions and emotions, let alone our children’s. That’s why the only solution we really have is to release some of that control.
We can do this by acknowledging that our children’s behaviour can be inappropriate and hard to manage or understand sometimes and accepting that’s okay—we don’t have to control it. If we persist in trying, we’ll only end up frustrated and exhausted. This is when all the toil and struggle in parenting occurs. As soon as we learn to let go, we will feel a lot lighter, calmer, happier, and oddly enough, a lot more in control.
Our children won’t end up out of control if we cease to be controlling. As long as they have fair, reasonable rules and consistent routines in place, there is no need to worry. Rules and routines replace control with love and guidance and discipline for coaching. Creating less restraint and resistance.
We can feel safe, then, to let go of some of that unnecessary control by trying out the following exercise.
LEARNING TO LET GO EXERCISE
- Today, choose fifteen minutes to spend with your child when it’s safe to let go of control and relax. The only time you should intervene is if they are about to do something dangerous to themselves or others. As a proactive parent, your home environment should be a safe place to do this exercise but be more aware and vigilant outside.
- In that fifteen minutes, choose to let it be okay for you to let go of controlling the situation. If, for example, your child is painting or making a mess, pulling all their toys out everywhere, allow them to. It’s okay for those fifteen minutes, you don’t have to control anything.
- Really feel relaxed. If you are finding it difficult, remind yourself it’s only fifteen minutes, and whatever it is your child is doing, it’s not the end of the world. They are just having fun, and you’re enjoying the freedom of not having to stop them or tell them off. You know that you can easily clean any mess up later on. If your child gets dirty, they can have a bath afterward, and washing machines were invented to clean dirty clothes. But for now, you don’t need to worry about any of that. Yes, even the crayon on the wall or playdough on the floor. You can just RELAX!
This is your chance to let go for fifteen minutes. Relax and refrain from throwing fuel on their fire. Just step back and watch them and silently say to yourself ‘It’s okay’ as you take in a few deep breathes and exhale slowly. Try not to breathe in and out too quickly or too shallow though, you don’t want to end up hyperventilating.
Over time, as we practice doing this exercise, we will soon realise that nothing catastrophic has happened. Then, gradually, we will master this art of feeling relaxed around our children, no matter what, even when we venture outside in public.
The more often you practice this exercise, the easier it will become. Even if they are throwing a tantrum in the supermarket, it’s still okay. When they finish throwing a tantrum (and believe me, they will probably stop before the fifteen minutes are up, especially if we are staying relaxed and not reacting to them) then we can just carry on as normal and do our shopping as if nothing happened.
We’ve still got 4 weeks to practice this exercise before Christmas is upon us, so let’s start today, take a deep breath, and go with the flow, you’ve got this!
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Thanks to Unsplash for images 🙂