Would helping your kids self-regulate over Christmas make your holiday celebrations happier and smoother?
Are you feeling like this mama who said, “I really had high hopes for Christmas traditions to be fun, full of happy memories, smiles, laughter, and joy. Instead I get fighting, arguing, crying, and ripping up creations. There are huge emotions and I am a frazzled Mama.”
Every mom understands this. We get it. Let’s talk about how you can help your children self-regulate and understand their emotions this Christmas and every day.
Christmas is such an exciting, busy, sweets filled, present shaking, hot chocolate drinking, Christmas song singing time. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Until we are feeling like this mama when our kids are tapped out with sugar, fighting, arguing, crying, and ripping up creations.
With children, the highs are high and the lows are low. Ever find yours bouncing back and forth between the highs and lows as if it is whiplash?
With Christmas comes family get togethers and outside pressure to fix the outbursts and strong tempered children immediately. Family members have good intentions but if and when our children get out of control, they no doubt will be asking, “What are you doing to fix this?”
Helping your kids self-regulate over Christmas and every day is possible!
THREE WAYS TO HELP YOUR CHILDREN SELF-REGULATE
Stay in control of your reactions
Your reaction cannot be explosive in response. No yelling back. No being mean or out of control. I know it’s easy to get annoyed and frustrated and shout back, but stay in control of your responses. Stay calm and emotionally regulated yourself. You are the adult.
Take hold of the one thing you can control which is yourself.
As you control yourself and your thoughts, words, responses, you will see your child slowly begin to calm down because you are not mirroring their explosive behavior.
Give your children the gift of your calm. I heard the story of a dad of a strong willed child say, “I am so calm right now. I am calm for you. I am here to help you.” I love that. His words and his steady, calm, patient energy was what his son needed. It was reassuring to him that dad was under control when he wasn’t.
A calm, steady anchor for your children’s big emotions
It’s like not getting pulled in by the undertow. You are a safe, calm, steady anchor that your children can crash against if they need to. That’s because you won’t get pulled in by the same undertow. You are the rescue that can pull them up and out of the emotional waves.
You get to teach them…better yet, demonstrate to them… how to control their emotions. While we care a lot about the words we are saying to our children, we know that our actions talk louder than our words.
Now, how do you do this successfully, stay in control of you, each time an outburst or a fight happens because we know it will?
Make a plan as to how you will respond
While you don’t know what’s going on in their head, you know your children well and have seen enough behavior patterns to guess how they may respond. So decide now how you will respond, and that you will not give in to their outbursts.
Let’s say for example, it’s movie night and one child gets upset at the movie that is picked. He throws the remote and stomps away. Calmly you say, “OK, that’s enough. Let’s go upstairs.” No movie for him tonight. Let’s carry out the bedtime routine. He won’t like it nor will he like that the other siblings get to stay up later than him, but stay calm and move forward as the parent.
If you have a plan as to how you will respond, you will stay in control, steady, and calm, and guide them through the strong emotions. Again, you are the rescue up and out of the undertow of emotions.
Questions to ask as you make a plan for how you will respond
- How can I plan for when this happens again?
- How can I respond next time? How can I help them?
- What am I in control of in moments like this?
Questions to ask your child to help them self-regulate next time
Another helpful idea is when it all settles down and the moment has passed, like the next day, take your child aside for five minutes, one to one time, and ask them how you may help.
Say, “I love you so much. Yesterday, when our cookie decorating didn’t go so well, how could mommy have helped you better with your sad feelings?”
If something like that happens again, because it might. We face hard stuff and have to learn how to work through it and not give up. How may I help you?
What good thoughts can you and I think about the challenge?
What can we say to ourselves and out loud when something gets hard or doesn’t go our way?
How can we respond next time to make the moment better?”
Say this! What genuine care and patience and honor you give to your children when you open this conversation up for them. You are on their side, their team.
I didn’t always have these conversations with my kids. Early on, I was the responsive mom who mirrored their outbursts because I wasn’t in control myself. But when that didn’t work and the outbursts kept coming, I finally clued in. There had to be a change and I knew it had to be in me first.
So I started having these conversations with my children and kept doing so even when they were little and hardly knew how to express in words how they felt. I just kept asking the questions. I hugged them, sat them on my lap, and opened up the conversation to guide them through the emotions.
Pre-Gaming Your Children Helps with Big Emotions
If you know there is a likelihood of your children fighting, arguing, and tearing up crafts. Maybe there is the possibility that one will think their craft isn’t good like everyone else’s. Or one sibling might take all of the M&Ms for their gingerbread house and not share. Then talk about it before it happens. Pre-game them just like the locker room talk before a game.
Call out what could possibility go wrong and decide on how you will all respond as a family team.
Say for example, “I hope this icing holds our gingerbread houses together. If our walls fall down and our roof caves in, what should we do?” Shout, “Eat it!”
By the way, Pop Tart houses are way more fun to decorate and eat than gingerbread houses, I think. We also love making waffles houses with fruit as the decorations.
Another example could be, “When it’s time to leave grandma’s house and go home, how will you respond? Will you say, “Ohhh, do we have to go now?” Say this while you are in the car on the way to grandma’s house. Let them offer the answers of, “We’ll clean up and give all the cousins a hug, and put our shoes on.”
Pre-gaming sets your children up for success because you help them to know how to respond before it happens. Watch this episode of the Renewed Mama Podcast where I talk more about pre-gaming your children with new situations.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
I hope these three suggestions of staying in control of your reactions, making a plan as to how you will respond, and pre-gaming your children help you guide your children in self-regulating over Christmas and every day after. Let me know. Leave a comment below. And share this with another mama you know who needs the encouragement.