“How can I stop getting cranky at my kids?
A question emailed to us a week or so ago, by one of our lovely readers, asking for tips. It’s a great question and we’ve all had moments when we feel wretched because we turned into a she-wolf for a moment and bit a loved one’s head off.
Know your early warning signs
Are you feeling irritable, tired, overwhelmed, have a headache, etc.? At these times, it’s worth refraining from comment – at least for 1 or 2 deep breaths. Practice taking a breath before answering and while you’re doing that, let’s get to tip number two …
While you’re taking a deep breath, before replying to the “words”, think about the intent with which they were said. For example, someone may be offering you advice on how to do something, often unbidden! (because they can see you’re stressed) It’s easy to get grumpy and defensive and bite back a demeaning retort to put them in their place and warn them off doing it again. However, what were they intending, when offering you advice? They wanted to help, right? (In the best way they knew how in that moment). So figure out the intent behind the words and respond to that.
What’s your intent when you speak to someone? Do you want to burn or earn trust? Build or erode connection? Ask yourself, while you’re taking those deep breaths, “Am I going to earn or burn trust with what I’m about to say? Build or erode connection?”. You’ll quickly move to a more constructive perspective.
Communicate the intent and avert an argument, e.g. 1.“I’m grateful you really want to help right now.” (expressing their intention – better than saying “Mind you’re own business!!!” or “Who asked for your help anyway, I can do this!!!”). Then, ask for what you want, clearly and specifically. It could be that you want to give it a go on your own, or that they could do something that would be helpful, but you’ll have to guide them in what you want. You could follow on from the above with, 2.“What would help me the most right now …”. Then when that’s done, follow through – 3.express your gratitude and highlight what really helped. (High fives!)
Stay out of your red zone – take a chill pill when early warning signs start to appear, remove yourself from harming others and do something that puts a smile on your dial before interacting.