Hot temper, cool parenting: 6 Tips on managing your child’s meltdowns

Hot temper, cool parenting: 6 Tips on managing your child’s meltdowns Cover Image

Parenting during a pandemic is hard and adjusting yourself and your kids to the new normal is a marathon, not a sprint. In this article, parents, you’ll get some important notes on how you can manage the balance at home better with your kids. Lay the ground rules, set a routine, don’t forget to bring in a little humour, follow through with expectations and more. These are just a few tips that will help you and your kids come through to the other side feeling happy and wholesome. Read on for the details!

Last year through the country-wide lockdown showed us what disruptions are all about. The second wave and now the third one that has engulfed our country and subsequently forced many school to shut again is indicative of how volatile our days have been and will continue to be, and the importance of treating the challenges, one day at a time.

As homes turn into WFH office spaces, as bedrooms become make-shift classrooms, as devices are shared and used to communicate, learn and work; parenting in COVID-19 times requires a different mindset. I have been saying this from the first lockdown in March 2020, that pre pandemic efforts were blessed with an ability to shift some responsibility to the school, the classes that children enrolled themselves in & playdates organized. It is essential to have some ‘personal space’ be it for the children or the adults, but in the lockdown world, the ‘chain’ does not really break and the circle is a continuous series of days that at times may lead to frustration for both the adults and the children caught in that ‘bubble.’

Acceptance that these times are different and difficult will be a good starting point for parents. Approach it like a ‘forced’ adventure, one that you can in fact control. The priority must be wellness and wellbeing, with attention bring paid to what you are feeling, and compassion for what your children are experiencing. As adults, our conditioning over a period of time allows us to ‘manage’ emotions, unfortunately, it is not the same for children – they need direction and role modeling, tons of patience, and lots of unconditional love. It sounds easy to pen this down on paper, well, truth to be told, it is not. This navigation is like maneuvering a ship through stormy waters, and while there will be calm that eventually happens, the timing is something that remains beyond control; hence it is important to create short-term and long-term goals to keep that ship afloat.

As parents, this is what you can do:

1. Keep it cool and follow these tips

Every educator has been emphasizing the need to create some sort of routine for your children. Children thrive when given freedom, but remember, they need to structure that in a way that allows them some purpose as well.

Over the years, as a mother and an educator, I find that children feel ‘comforted’ when given freedom, but also when they have a direction, a path, and some goals to achieve. It allows them to think and plan and gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility.

This purpose or path could be the fun exercises you lead every Sunday with them after watching their favorite serial. It is important that the environment is relaxed and not rushed, and Sunday works best devoid of work tasks (please keep them away), and their school routines. Think of this as a ‘contract’ between your child and you and defining the ‘week’s goal’ will help both parties to have clarity and reduce the disappointments that usually arise when a parent ‘expects’ something, and the child has totally missed the point because she/he was not paying attention and does something completely different.

Make a routine that include negotiations on screen time, play time, study time, reading time, eating time, exercise time, bath time, tidying up time, tv time, etc. I use the word negotiation because this cannot be a one-way street with you dictating what time they should eat, sleep, work and play. It involves a dialog and explaining to get their buy-in and being open-minded to their suggestions. As adults, you can navigate this conversation to what you would eventually like it to be, but involving children in a discussion makes them ‘listen’ and also ‘locks’ them in.

2. Routine and its consequences

Have clear consequences for when the routine is compromised. I do not mean that for half an hour of extra playtime means they are denied their favourite meal. What I mean is that for resistance to give up screen time for extended periods, there must be ‘3 strikes’ after which the child automatically accepts that there will be consequences for ‘pushing’ the deadline. The importance of being consistent is also a clear sign for the children and must be adhered to. This approach leads to fewer confrontations, and tears because once the child has consented to something, he/she is aware that there will be consequences and yes, expect some resistance and pleading and sometimes mood swings, but children get over this very quickly when they realise their parents mean business!

3. Set your own expectations as a family

I cannot emphasize this. While I am a huge advocator for using social media sensibly, at times I realise parents start to use these as comparisons. For that matter even on social chats when parents share notes with each other about their children – what works for your family is unique to your household circumstances and do not make the mistake of thinking it can be modelled along the lines of what someone else is managing. This is a huge trigger point for conflicts in homes, and best to always be appreciative of what others manage, but as a family, you have to set your own goals.

4. Humour

Laughter and plain old ‘monkeying’ around is very important if you have to keep the mood light and lively. This also works wonders for acceptance levels when parents have to set deadlines. A happy, joyful atmosphere is important especially with the kind of overwhelmingly sad news that is reported every day. Your job as a parent is to keep your children safe, and happy and also to keep their morale up. They do not need to know all the facts of the world, as this leads to anxiety which is another trigger point for tantrums as children also get worried and are unable to always express this through words.

5. Knowing the pulse of your children

What works and what does not, must be your biggest driving force. Leave the academic goals aside for a moment, know what makes your child happy, what is confusing your child, what is tiring your child, what is difficult for your child and accepting that, you will be able to reach out to different professionals – be it your child’s teacher in a school or a therapist for intervention. When you are not able to manage the emotions as a family, and the sooner you get professional help, the safer it is for your relationship. This could be a behavioral change or an academic dip, or even an emotional indifference, it is very important to spot the signs and address them quickly.

6. Quality interactions and importance of personal time

Ensure that the time you spend with your child involves quality interactions, and also some time for the child to manage independently explaining you have household chores or work tasks or need to connect with the family of friends socially (this is important for them to know so that they also put a price on these relationships). This ‘distancing’ is also healthy, as lockdown times demand every minute of your energy, and as an adult, it is unrealistic to believe you can sustain like a superhuman with the same tenacity. Distancing therefore allows for personal time, which is just the oxygen that your relationship needs. What it also does is that after your personal ‘quotient’ is in a happy place, it allows you to give your child all the attention, energy.

These are some basic reminders to get you through the months ahead. Remember, no parent has a complete fix on this, and no child is perfectly going to follow all the rules and all that one can do as a family is making this relationship about communication, mistakes, corrections with some funny and happy memories.

Happy parenting!

About the Guest Author

Ms. Fatima Agarkar, is an educationist who believes that the teaching landscape will transform if teachers and educators can reimagine their role from ‘teaching’ to ‘reaching’ them. Fatima has been focusing on the generation of innovative educational modules and her in-depth academic know-how, nothing but truly defines her ceaseless passion.

Fatima has been awarded by Giants Group for her outstanding contribution to the field of education, the Young Achiever’s Award in the year 2017, Singapore based, Best of Asia’s, ‘Enterprising Educator in the year 2018 and as an entrepreneur ‘Best Edupreneur 2019 and Best Leadership’ by Progressive Academic Excellence India (Maharashtra 2019) and one of the 10th finest inspirational educators in 2019 by TKR, India. A pioneer of change, her extraordinary and inspiring actions indicate towards nothing but reforming and revolutionizing the Indian education system.

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