Communication is critical in the parent-child relationship. But not all forms of communication are productive. Parents and kids can often drive each other nuts. Under stress -- including the stress of parenting -- many Moms and Dads reach a point where their responses become emotional. We can fall into the pattern of yelling at an errant child, standing over him or her threateningly or poking a finger at the poor kid. These intimidation techniques may have the goal of impressing your child with your authority, but they really just show that you've lost control of yourself and of the situation. This behavior is rude and demeaning to your kid, and it shuts down communication. Faced with such a barrage, children are unlikely to feel that you're open to their input. So they stay silent and rigid, and parental ire escalates, often ending with the parent demanding an answer or asking if the child is even listening. The whole scene is a bad example for handling emotions and dealing with problems.
Emotions are normal and natural, and everyone experiences the full range, including anger. But just as you want to model good behavior for your child, it's important to model self-control of emotions. Here are some tips for avoiding the intimidation scene:
- Take a deep breath and relax your body. Counting to 10 can help shift you out of the emotional part of your brain and back into the rational part.
- Sit down. This puts you at eye level with your child, so you're not looming over him or her.
- Put your hands in your pockets or reach out to hold your kid's hands. This keeps you from stabbing angry fingers in his or her face.
- Focus on the problem, not your son or daughter.
- Take a break if you or your child gets too worked up.