As much as every mother would like to have nothing but days of sunshine and picnics, it’s just not realistic. As a human, days can become consumed with busy errands, arguments, pressure, and frustration. Unfortunately, this frustration can sometimes be directed at the children in the home. It’s important for us, as parents, to keep in mind that a little human isn’t capable of handling their own emotions well enough to handle an adults emotions along with them, which is why it’s so important to practice patience in every interaction you have with your child. This isn’t always easy to do, especially when there are calls to make, dinner to plan, kids to pick up, and a work schedule to write. There are some great techniques out there that parents can use to help them not to be an “angry parent.” One of those techniques is the infamous “hair tie trick” started by Kelly Holmes.
Kelly Holmes from “The (Reformed) Idealist Mom” was the one who came up with the hair tie trick, but one of her readers, Shauna Harvey, was the one who made it go viral by posting about it on Facebook. “Today, I tried something new,” wrote Harvey. Kelly had some helpful advice for her readers that could help them to become less angry mothers. According to her advice, Kelly put five hair ties on her wrist. Her daily goal is to end every day with those five hair ties still on her wrist. Every time she said something out of anger, or was less than patient with her little ones, she would move a hair tie to the opposite wrist. To earn the tie back, she would have to say something loving to her children and complete five loving interactions.
“Research shows that to have a healthy relationship, for every one negative interaction you need 5 positive interactions to balance that out,” explained Kelly Holmes. “It’s called the Magic 5:1 Ratio,” she continued. The idea behind the Magic 5:1 Ratio is that every negative interaction you have with your little one (which is inevitable because parenting is difficult) should be followed by five positive interactions. These types of interactions include: telling them how awesome they are, dancing in the living room, painting together, and many other things!
After the first day of trying out the hair trick, Shauna Harvey was hopeful. “I have finished the day with all 5 bands on the original wrist. I’m very proud of myself for exercising patience with him. I know it’s only day 1 but I’m hopeful this will help our communication skills and our relationship,” she said. In Kelly’s original post, she explained why she had started changing the way that she was interacting with her daughter. “Unfortunately for me, I’d developed a bad habit of talking sharply to my preschooler. My brain was on autopilot headed in the wrong direction towards being an angry mother,” she recalled. As soon as she started doing the hair tie trick, Kelly quickly noticed a positive influence on how she spoke to her little one. “Months later, the hair tie hack is still working wonders. I talk to my preschooler with love and kindness in my voice instead of annoyance and frustration,” wrote Kelly.
Parents.com spoke to Kelly about why her hair tie trick had gone viral. She responded with: “As parents, we crave a healthy, connected relationship with our little ones. But in the chaos of modern parenting life, we can get frustrated easily and that puts a strain on our relationship with our kids. The hair ties are a simple, visible reminder to catch ourselves before we get off track. And because we’re human, it’s possible to ‘earn’ the hair ties back to repair the relationship after we slip up.” Kelly has also provided printables on her website that will teach parents how to come up with positive interactions that they can use against negative interactions.
A lot of parents would agree that becoming a parent was the most rewarding thing that they have ever done. And those same parents will say that they’re guilty of losing their cool a time or two. It’s not always easy to keep negative emotions in check. This is why it’s important to remain mindful about the emotions that you’re feeling as often as possible. This is where reminding yourself that it’s you, and not your child, that needs to take a step back.
As a parent, there are days when you just want to stand in the middle of your kitchen and scream at the top of your lungs. Those days when nobody seems to be hearing anything that you’re saying. The days when you’ve burned dinner because your son put toothpaste all over the baby. And the days when you might need a glass of wine if one more person says that they can’t find something that’s sitting right in front of them. It’s important to take a step back on days like these. Remind yourself that it’s you that needs a “time-out” and not your child. Take a few minutes to recognize what’s causing your anger and frustration. Once you get to the root of the issues, they’re easier to handle. Then when you’re ready, you can return to your little ones with a smile on your face. Speaking of smiling…
The age-old adage of faking it until you make it has a bit of wisdom in it. While you shouldn’t consistently fake your emotions, there are times when faking a smile can be helpful. Even if smiling is the only thing keeping you from losing your temper, then put that smile on your face until it wants to be there. Kids can sense everything that you’re feeling, so that smile might just keep them from realizing that something is a bit off with your mood. Smiling in itself can also help improve your mood! There is science-based evidence that proves that smiling can help improve your blood pressure, decrease your stress, and not to mention, smiling is contagious! Once you start smiling, your little one will start smiling, too! It’s a wonderful ripple effect that can turn your whole day around. Just like this next helpful tip!
Do you have a special song that you listen to when you’re feeling upset or anxious? You know, a song that can bring you up no matter how bad of a day you’re having? If so, then put it to use. If you feel like your day is getting away from you and everything feels like it’s out of your control, then take a dance break. Put on that song and turn the volume up as loud as you can (just be mindful of the sleeping toddler in the next room). And that’s when you dance it out. Sing out loud to the top of your lungs, and let every negative feeling in your body flow out of you while you’re doing it. If that doesn’t help, then put that smile back on your face and refer to the next tip!
If you’re having an exceptionally rough day and you’re just one smart comment from saying something rude to your teenager, then put that smile on your face and head to the front door. Take some time for yourself and go for a nice walk. Spending time by yourself, away from the chaos in the house, is a great way to calm down. Give yourself some quality time to think about what’s going on in your life at the moment. Figure out why you’re feeling the way that you’re feeling and think about what’s causing you to feel that way. Once you get to the bottom of what’s causing your frustration and anger, then you can brainstorm ways to make the situation better. If it’s not something that you can deal with during the duration of your walk, then you can relax knowing that you just got some time outside. Spending time outside, surrounded by nature, can help ease anxiety and put your mind back in the right place.
Simply put, kids make plenty of messes. And most of the time it’s a parent’s first reaction to snap off at them. Sometimes kids are dirty little creatures that are full of curiosity and imagination, which is why you should practice turning a negative into a positive. When you can see more paint than skin on your child’s body, remember to think before you act. Instead of saying, “Why are you so messy?” or “why did you have to do that? Now I’m the one that has to clean it up,” switch the negativity in your words to something positive. You could try something like: “I love that you’re so creative (smart, intelligent, artistic), but now is not the time to paint. Would you like to wash your hands with me?” Doing this shows that you validate your child, but you need them to do something else, instead. You certainly don’t want to discourage your child in any way, but there are rules that need to be followed. As long as you speak to them with patience, it will be easier to move to the next thing. Grabbing things from them and yelling can cause a meltdown on their part, which will delay you even further.
The most beautiful thing about children is the way that they view the world. They see everything through pure eyes. They dump toothpaste into the baby’s hair because it’s fun to them. It’s a new experience and they don’t understand the consequences of it yet. Children live the right way. They live in the moment, and while this can get them into trouble, it’s also the simplest way to be happy. So, instead of snapping the next time they do something with “too much” energy, or they make a huge mess that you’re stuck with cleaning up, put yourself into their shoes. When you’re able to do that and you make the effort to try to understand why they were drawn to doing whatever it was that they did, then you’ll be able to find a reason to react out of love, instead of anger. And if that’s hard to do, then it’s time to remember the next tip!
It’s really hard to get out of a negative mood once you’re already elbows deep in it. If you’re having the type of day where you just can’t seem to catch a break and one thing after another keeps happening, then you need to come up for air. Take some quiet time for yourself, but this time, don’t think about anything. Just breathe. Count your breaths and sit still for a few moments. If you choose to, repeat a mantra silently to yourself. You could remind yourself of things like: “I’m patient. I can handle this,” and “nothing is permanent.” Reminding yourself of these things throughout the day can help erase some of the emotional static that you’re feeling. Once you’re finished with this, it will make following through with the next tip much easier!
When you’re reacting to your child with anger, frustration, and a loud voice, then they’re going to feel the need to do the same. Think about how you react when someone is raising their voice with you, or acting like they’re frustrated with your conversation. Some people react by shrinking into themselves out of fear of doing something wrong. And other people react with anger, yelling to get their point across. Neither one of these scenarios is okay. Instead of raising your voice, approach the situation with patience. Be mindful of your tone and explain to your children why you’re upset. Verbally attacking them by yelling will only cause them to become defensive, scared, or defiant. Be mindful of your words and your little ones will be able to use their words the right way, as well.
If none of these tips seem to be working, then you might need to make some other adjustments in your life. Take inventory of the things that you do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. After taking a close examination of your schedule, you might notice that you’ve got your hands full. Next, write down the things that you’re obligated to do, and the things that you like to do. If there’s anything you can eliminate, do it. Some parents feel overwhelmed because…you guessed it, they have way too many things on their plate. Give yourself time to do something other than running around doing errands. Decrease the amount of stress in your life by filling your day with things that don’t bring you stress. It sounds simple but with dance lessons, book clubs, grocery shopping, and school dances, it can be hard to find time for yourself. If you take nothing else from this, remember the following: To properly take care of others, you have to take care of yourself first!
To help you get through the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you can come up with a calm down practice. This is a list of techniques and skills you can use to help bring you back down to Earth when you’re having a bad day. Your list could include a walk outside, meditation, breathing exercises, going for a drive, or putting your headphones in to jam out for a bit. The most important thing for you to remember is to make the list your very own. Every person is different, which means that they have different triggers and different calming mechanisms. Do YOU, and write down what makes YOU feel good! Whenever you’re having a bad day, whip out that list and get back on the right track in no time!
Some days it’s just easier for you to throw in the towel. Yes, you read that right. Give up….but not in the way that you’re thinking. I don’t mean give up and stay in bed all day, wishing that all of your problems would just go away. Give up on your expectations, your schedules, and your bad mood. Go with the flow for the day. If it seems like nothing is going right, then stop fighting it. What will be will be, so ride the wave and have a good time!
This is the most important tip of all, and it has nothing to do with breathing, counting to ten, or going outside. It’s about how you treat yourself! No one ever said that parenting was easy, but for some reason, every mother holds themselves to impossibly high standards. Every single mother questions themselves and their actions 20 times a day. Give yourself a break and don’t be so hard on yourself! It’s okay to feel angry and frustrated. It’s okay to flip out every once in a while, as long as you recognize the negative behavior and prepare yourself to give out some apologies. What’s not okay is telling yourself that you’re a bad mother. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes and move on! Parenting is hard work, but you’re doing a great job!