Help For Mommy Melt Down

AngerHave you ever had a hard time keeping your cool when it’s 5:30 P.M., dinner isn’t made, your five-year-old is having a tantrum, the baby has a cold and you’re exhausted because you were up all night with him? Boy oh boy, do I have a great little trick for you. No, it doesn’t involve prescription drugs or Child Protective Services.

It’s really pretty simple and I have to admit to using it myself more than once. Don’t laugh, but I’m talking about getting yourself an old-fashioned audio tape recorder and keeping it handy.

When you feel like you’re just not going to be able to hang in, turn it on and pretend you’re going live. Pretend you’re making the tape to present to a parenting class that needs pointers in how to stay calm and in the “parental role” when things are blowing up. It can be your own little reality show, if you will, without all the dysfunction! Fun!

Parenting really is a skill that must be learned, but it’s also an art. And when the chips are down, we need to see that we can step up and into those big mommy shoes and gain more confidence while we’re at it. Secretly using the tape recorder may show you a side of yourself that you didn’t know was there.  I’ll bet you’re stronger and more resilient than you realize.

You’d be surprised how just knowing it’s on will help you to stay calm and get through whatever’s happening. Don’t tell the kids though, just keep it your own little secret.

After the chaos subsides you may want to listen to it to get some perspective on what was sending you through the roof. You might start to see why some of the tactics you were using with your kids weren’t working. For example, you may realize that you were repeating the same instruction over and over again but your voice was whiny and your child wasn’t paying attention.

So, maybe you learn that you need to use more of a calm, authoritative, adult voice and to make sure that you have his attention before asking him to clean up the crayons and the coloring books. Worth a try, right? And who knows? You may end up actually teaching that parenting class someday.

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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