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Staying Calm When Your Child Acts Up

police-girlAlthough there are days when your child may be pushing all of your buttons and you feel as though your reactions are beyond your control, it truly is a daily (or perhaps even moment to moment) choice not to yell, to stay calm, to choose love, and to parent positively.   Even still, all parents get angry at their children.  Anger is a type of message, in and of itself is not necessarily a problem, except that in the heat of the moment it is difficult to see the situation for what it is and react thoughtfully to it.  In the blog post “How can you stay cool when your kid acts up?” by Dr. Laura Markham at  she highlights five tips for staying level-headed when your child is acting up:

  1. Notice that you’re getting annoyed.  Sometimes it may happen so quickly it startles even us.  Usually, however, we can feel our irritation building as we start reviewing all of the reasons we are right and our child is ungrateful and disrespectful.  Once you reach this point, (Dr. Markham calls it “gathering kindling”), it’s difficult to avoid the firestorm.  As soon as you notice negative thoughts about your child, STOP, breathe, and remind yourself that your child is acting like a child because he is a child, and needs your love most when he seems to least deserve it.
  2. Use your inner pause button.  Even if you’re already ventured down the wrong path and you’re yelling at your child, you can STOP, breathe, and hit the pause button.  Close your mouth, even mid-sentence.  Not only will this de-escalate the situation, but it also models good anger management skills.
  3. Take Five.  Just as it is impossible to talk clearly with your child when your child is upset, you will be unable to accurately address the issue with your child while you’re angry.  Take a few minutes to calm down and get re-centered so you can listen to the real reason behind your anger.  Does your child’s behavior frighten you?  Are you exhausted and stressed out?  You may find that your anger doesn’t even stem from the issue at hand.
  4. Try a Do-Over.  Apologize to your child for getting so upset, and tell her that the two of you are going to try a Do-over to find a win-win situation.  Listen to your child’s feelings, resisting the urge to blame, and try to see things from her perspective, looking for a solution that meets both of your needs.  If your child has damaged something – material or relational – ask her what she might do to repair it.
  5. Practice, Practice, Practice.  Good news!  Brain pathways can be rewired, so if you are prone to flying off the handle, you can teach your brain new patterns of self-discipline.  Keep practicing, and you’ll notice that your eruptions at your child will become few and far between.

Would you like other tools to help your communicate more effectively with your children?  Kidtelligent can help!  The Kidtelligent Assessment is a unique tool that not only gives you indispensable insight into your children’s personality, it also offers parenting suggestions and tips based on your children’s distinctive personality traits.  To learn more about Kidtelligent, follow us on Facebook at or go to

Sarah is a guest blogger for Kidtelligent.  She is an introverted soccer-playing, travel-loving, poetry-writing wife to an extroverted “go-getter” husband and mother to two high-spirited, sweet, and enthusiastic boys.  She plans on getting really, really good at the above 5 steps!