Parenting is a hard job.
And no matter how patient or calm you are, there are times when your children will push all your limits, leaving you angry, frustrated and overwhelmed.
Rather than resorting to yelling, spanking, or overly punitive consequences, give yourself a timeout.
Don’t Forget to Breathe
Count to ten, do some deep breathing exercises, or do a yoga pose or two. Sometimes just taking a few seconds to slow down your breathing will give you back the patience you need to decide how best to handle the situation.
Try one of these breathing exercises or mediations next time you need a quick time out:
• Basic Relaxation Breathing: Put your hands on your stomach. Inhale for a count of five and focus on making your belly expand as much as possible as you breathe in. Exhale for a count of five and focus on the way your belly sinks back in as the air leaves it. Repeat as many times as you need.
• Breath Counting: Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Begin to breath naturally. As you exhale, count “one” to yourself. On your next exhalation, count two. On the next exhalation, count three. Continue in this format until you reach five. If you wish, repeat the series of counted breaths again. This breathing practice is often used in Zen meditation and can help you regain a sense of calm and control.
• Relaxing Breath Exercise: Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth. Exhale completely through your mouth. Inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat the cycle three more times, for a total of four breaths.
• Sa-Ta-Na-Ma Meditation: This simple exercise combines a chant (sa-ta-na-ma) with a mudra (defined by kundaliniyoga.org as “a gesture . . . that locks and guides energy flow and reflexes to the brain). This is a simple mediation that can be done in only a few seconds.
To do the mediation, press your thumb and first finger together as you say “sa”;then press your middle finger and thumb together as you say “ta”; press your ring finger and thumb together as you say “na”; and press your little finger and thumb together as you say “ma.” Repeat the chant as many times as you wish.
In Kundulini tradition, your first finger (“sa”) brings in knowledge, the middle finger (“ta”) brings patience, the ring finger (“na”) gives vitality and the little finger (“ma”) aids in clear communication. The rhythm also has a calming effect.
Escape, Literally or Figuratively
Go into a different room or go outside. Close the door and separate yourself from your child. Even if your child follows to the door and is banging on it, you will have some separation between the two of you. Take some deep breaths, calm down, and focus on regaining your composure before returning to your child.
You can also do some guided imagery to help you calm down. Think of guided imagery as “going to your happy place.” Close your eyes, take some deep breaths and imagine yourself in a calm and relaxing place. (But don’t forget to come back to reality and re-connect with your child once you’re in a calmer state.)
You can also use physical activity to distract yourself for a few minutes. Put on your MP3 player and dance to a couple of tunes or do some jumping jacks or run in place. You’ll get a break and the physical activity will burn off some of your anger and frustration as well.
If a spouse, partner or other trusted adult is available, ask them to step in and take over. Sometimes a new perspective can help calm things down a bit, and if they situation is really tough, it’s nice to have someone you can tag team with.
And as a preventative measure, plan some time away from your child on a regular basis. If you have a partner, work out an arrangement where each of you gets time away from the children on a regular basis.
If you’re a single parent, try to negotiate with friends or neighbors for a much needed break. You may even work out a deal with other single parents to take turns watching one another’s children so you each get a break from time to time.
Mom time outs are as important as those we give our children. Not only do they make us better parents, but they also help teach our children appropriate ways of dealing with stressful and frustrating situations.
Kundalini Yoga (http://www.kundaliniyoga.org/kyt15.html)
Stress Relief Exercises (http://www.stress-relief-exercises.com/deep-breathing-exercises.html)
Weil, Andrew, M.D. “Three Breathing Exercises,” www.drweil.com. (http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00521/three-breathing-exercises.html )