Thoughtful Parenting: How to go from chaos to calm
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When the new school year honeymoon is over, and you find yourself getting into power struggles, door slamming or the infamous teen eye roll, we’ve got some tips and strategies to help de-escalate anger, calm your child and get back on track.
Adolescence is the time of challenging authority, seeking independence and engaging in risk-taking. How parents handle this process is crucial to how your child will grow into this new semi-adult role. It is important to remain calm, not overreact, stick to your values, be consistent, continue to love unconditionally and have thick skin because adolescents can be rude and hurtful.
In William Glasser’s book, “Unhappy Teenagers,” he lists do’s and don’ts for parents, which include the “Seven Deadly Sins” to avoid with their adolescents such as criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing and rewarding to control. Glasser suggests using “Seven Connecting Habits” instead, which are caring, trusting, listening, supporting, negotiating, befriending and encouraging.
If your child or adolescent is angry and spirals into an argument, it is difficult to disengage and walk away. However, getting the last word in with a teenager is fighting a losing battle. Consider the words of wisdom from Fred Jones, an expert in discipline, “It takes one fool to back talk, but two fools to make a conversation out of it.”
Here are some calming, de-escalation, anger-busting activities for you and your child:
1. Have a piece of gum. Always keep sugarless gum handy. Chew away your anger.
2. Chant a personal mantra. Repeat a favorite saying several times. For instance, “Tomorrow will be a better day” or “I know I’m a good person.”
3. Create a therapeutic ritual. When you are stressed, and anger is on the way, use a ritual such as pulling on your right ear three times, open and close your fist five times or whistle a tune.
4. Forgive others. When you forgive others for their mistakes, you eventually feel better.
5. Write in a gratitude journal. When things aren’t going well, write something positive in a journal. Think of things for which you are grateful.
6. Are you 100 percent sure? Always ask yourself this question before reacting.
7. 5-4-3-2-1. Use all of your senses to ground yourself. Identify five things in the room you see. Four things you can touch. Three things you can hear. Two things you can smell. One thing you can taste.
8. Breathing activity 4-8-4. Breathe in for four counts, hold for eight counts and breathe out for four counts.
9. Where’s that photo? Keep a photo of someone you love and respect, such as a grandparent. When you are upset, look at the photo and ask, “What would he/she want me to do?”
10. Pressure point. Take your thumb and middle finger and squeeze together tightly for five to 10 seconds. Do this before saying or doing anything else.
Megan Wykhuis is a school social worker and Jaime Dulberg is a school counselor at the South Routt School District.
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