DALLAS — Parents, perhaps this sounds familiar: you’re in a big hurry for work or school, and your child does something that sets you off. Perhaps it’s talking back or fighting with a sibling, and you can’t help it. You lose your cool. Blood pressure rises, tempers flare, yelling ensues.
According to parent coach Kim Muench, you’ve just been triggered.
“It’s those moments when you’re with your child or children where you immediately go from zero calm to 100, in terms of wanting to react to the situations,” she says.
Muench is the author of the new book “Becoming Me While Raising You.” She says parents should know that it’s common to lose your cool. She says we all do it, but that it helps to know the six things kids do that tend to set parents off the most.
“Whining is the number one parenting trigger,” Muench says. “And that’s closely followed by kids not listening. Disrespectful behavior. Hearing the words, ‘I hate you.’ Physical pain – your kid biting or hitting you or pushing back– is another. The sixth most triggering thing is sibling fighting.”
She says knowing the things that can draw your ire – especially when you’re stressed or in a hurry – can be a big help when it comes to managing parenting stress.
So what do you do when you inevitably lose your cool? Muench recommends leaving the room, getting another parent to step in, or even just practicing a simple breathing exercise to calm yourself down. She says it’s important to remember that parents are setting the example of how to control their emotions. By doing so, hopefully kids will learn to control theirs.
But above all, give yourself some grace. Muench says knowing how to ask for forgiveness – and to forgive yourself – is one of the best lessons any parent can teach their kids.