Keeping calm can be one of the most challenging responsibilities of a parent. Children can often become distraught over seemingly minor incidents.
Yet while the incidents may seem minor, the emotions evoked often are anything but minor.
By remaining calm in these situations you can react better, think more clearly and be a source of strength for your children.
Often when children are upset they want you to share in their emotions to validate their own. They may be angry, sad, frustrated or impatient.
If their parent’s reaction mimics their own, that shows children that their emotions are an appropriate reaction to an event.
Keeping Calm Works
When your children are getting upset, it’s difficult to be the lone voice of calm. Children can try to bait you into reacting as intensely as they are feeling.
Children can be especially effective at knowing what buttons to push to get you upset. They probably know your Achilles Heel and want to aim right for it.
Don’t let them upset you.
You need to stay calm.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
~ excerpt from “If” by Rudyard Kipling
A dear friend of mine when I lived in England gave me the best advice I’ve ever received in parenting my girls. She had raised a daughter to adulthood and was raising two young sons adopted from Cambodia.
We had lunch one day after I had an argument with my oldest daughter who was then 12, about what I don’t remember, but I was upset. My friend Wendy told me,
“Don’t get on that train!”
She explained that children often ride on an emotional train.
“That train is a run-away train and they’re scared where it’s going to take them. They want nothing better than for you to hop on that train and start to guide it.”
How to Keep Calm
She advised me strongly to resist that urge to jump on that train. “Let the train pass by the station. Wave as it goes by, but stay on the platform. What ever you do, don’t get on that train!”
She continued her analogy by pointing out that the train was, after all, a runaway train, which is a very difficult machine to control.
If we stand on firm ground we are better prepared to deal with whatever the issue might be than if we are on a runaway train.
Keeping calm helps you stay on the ground.
It Works for Everybody
My friend gave me that advice when she knew I was headed into rough territory, having three teenage girls who were soon destined to become full-fledged teenagers.
But her wisdom applies just as well to interactions with co-workers, friends and customers. If you can keep your head while others are losing theirs, you will be better off.
Keeping calm gives you the advantage of having control over any situation.
Wendy moved back to America soon after she gave me that advice, well before my girls all reached their teenage years.
But, as a mom to three teenage girls, sometimes I wonder what I would have done without Wendy’s sage advice.
I probably would be on that train.
Over to you –
Would you also be on that train? Did your parents get upset with you when you were kids? What do you do when your children get upset? What do you do to keep calm? Share your experiences of keeping calm with children.
Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos
Posted on: September 18th, 2012
Last Updated on: March 17th, 2015