You did it again. You lost your temper with your kids. You yelled. You criticized.
No matter how hard you try, you keep falling back into these bad habits.
You don’t want to be an angry parent, but in the moment…it just happens.
You’ve heard all about learning your triggers. And you know it’s important.
But you need something more.
Something to keep you from exploding. Something to keep you calm.
When you’re triggered, your mind is in overdrive. Your breathing is rapid. Your muscles are tense. You’re ready for a fight.
Instead of letting these emotions drive you to anger, focus on the word STOP.
Each letter in the word stands for a step you can use to interrupt the angry cycle and stay calm with your kids.
(S) Say it out loud – Get your thoughts and feelings out by describing what’s going on internally. It can be a simple phrase: “I’m feeling really frustrated right now!” Keep it focused on you, not on what your kids are doing (“You are driving me crazy!” or “If you would just stop fighting I wouldn’t have to yell!”).
(T) Turn around – Keep yourself from spanking, grabbing or hurting your kids by turning your body away. This also eliminates the tendency to tower over your kids with angry expressions, finger pointing, or other hurtful gestures. Sitting or laying down can shift your focus and encourage your body to calm.
(O) Observe the situation – It’s time to take a few deep breaths! While you’re breathing, get a handle on what’s going on around you. How did this start? When did things get off track? How would you like to handle the situation now? Give yourself permission to start over and make a different choice.
(P) Praise – You did it! You interrupted the yelling cycle! Give yourself some love. Really. Your brain learns better when you focus on what went well, than when you beat yourself up for doing something wrong. Focus on what you did right, even if it was something small. You’re learning. You’re changing the pattern.
Don’t wait for perfection.
The STOP method can be used at any time – even if you’ve already started yelling!
It is never too late to use these steps to interrupt the angry cycle and focus on getting back to calm.
With time and practice, you will find yourself going through these steps without even realizing it. It will be an automatic response.
Everyone slips back into old habits, especially when we’re under a lot of stress. Instead of feeling discouraged and beating yourself up, acknowledge the slip-up and get back on track.
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