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As a blogger, author, and parenting coach, I have the privilege of speaking to many moms who are on a mission to parent peacefully.
But one area that seems to be particularly challenging for us, is self-control.
Let’s be honest, positive parenting doesn’t come easy some days.
We have the best intentions of gently and tenderly leading our children… Patiently handling any challenge or tantrum that may come our way.
But so many times, our best intentions aren’t enough. We blow up at our kids. Sometimes we lose our cool. We yell. We snap.
Obviously, we don’t want to. We don’t mean to. But self-control? It seems to slip away when stress mounts up and it seems like we can’t help but explode.
And then? Guilt. We feel like a failure and we want to give up.
Eventually, we may abandon the idea of peaceful parenting altogether because it just feels impossible. Friend, it doesn’t have to be this way!
Here are 8 tips for developing self-control so that we can stay calm (and not lose it on our kids!)
8 Tips for Having More Self-Control as a Mom
1. Remember your motivation
Why is it that you want to parent peacefully? How come you don’t want to blow up at your kids? Take a moment and think about what kind of relationship you want with your children 10, 15, even 20 years from now.
When my kids are adults and they reflect back on their childhood, I never want them to doubt that I loved them. I want them to remember me as loving and kind. Not annoyed, angry, or irritable.
On the really hard days, remembering your motivation will keep you going.
Have you ever played a sport or an instrument? I’m sure you’ve been told, “Practice makes perfect!”
Or, have you ever been in a recital or a play? You rehearse again and again. You practice over and over until you’re sick of it.
The same thing is true when it comes to self-control. We must practice.
Whatever we practice is what we do. The more we yell, the more we’ll yell. The more often we explode, the more often we’ll explode.
But thankfully, the opposite is also true. The more we practice a gentle answer, the more natural it will become. When we rehearse a smile and an extra dose of patience, we will give our children kindness.
3. Use positive self-talk
Do you ever find yourself telling yourself things like, “I’m such a terrible mom.” Or, “I’ll always fail at this. It’s hopeless.”
That running dialogue we have in our mind is very powerful. Repeating negative messages over and over again causes us to believe it. When we believe that we can’t tame our temper, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Instead of allowing these negative thoughts to take root in our hearts, replace those negative thoughts with positive ones.
Replace, “I’m a horrible mother,” with a more positive thought. Such as, “I’m a good mom who is learning and growing every day.”
Replace, “I’m a failure,” with, “I’m not a failure. I’m human.” You get the idea. 🙂
4. Know your triggers
Are there specific things that usually trigger you? Tiredness? Stress? Whining?
If you know what your triggers are, you’ll be able to mentally prepare yourself when going into a stressful situation. You can also take preventative measures to avoid being triggered in the first place.
For example, one thing that really annoys me is when I’ve *just* sat down to get some work done and one of my kids comes to ask me for *another* snack. In order to prevent this trigger, we recently started having a “snack bowl” for the day where I pre-portion snacks and put them all in the same bowl. Now my kids can head to the snack bowl to grab their own snack, rather than asking me to make it for them.
Related reading: From Angry Mom to Calm Mom (In 0.5 Seconds!)
5. Practice self-care
As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Each day we mamas are constantly pouring love and attention on our kiddos. Taking time to recharge our own batteries is essential to peaceful parenting.
We can’t parent peacefully if we are running on empty. Investing time in ourselves is a must. Even if it’s just five to ten minutes a day, be sure to carve out some time to relax and de-stress. Some ideas for self-care include taking a hot bubble bath, meditating, or doing a hobby that fulfills you.
6. Be mindful of your influences
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “garbage in, garbage out.” It’s so true, especially in the context of parenting. If you find yourself struggling with losing your cool, it may be time to examine who is influencing you.
What kind of shows do you watch? What do you watch on YouTube? Who are the influencers you follow on social media? How do your close friends parent their children?
It’s okay to take a step back from entertainment that is affecting you in a negative way. It’s also okay to distance yourself from friends whose parenting style may be negatively influencing you.
(I’m not saying don’t be friends, I’m just saying that you need positive influences to make this peaceful parenting thing work! For example, if you’re talking with someone on the phone and they start yelling at their kids, you might gently say, “I’m gonna let you go. Call me back once things have settled down.”)
BTW, If you’re a Christian mom who wants to parent peacefully, check out my private Facebook group for encouragement and tools from likeminded moms!
7. Be forgiving
It’s so easy to get stuck in this place of “mom guilt.” It’s okay to feel guilty when we’ve genuinely made a mistake, but try not to pitch a tent and stay there.
Give yourself permission to feel the guilt, and then forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Release that guilt and move forward.
8. Take baby steps
It’s tempting to try to overhaul our entire lives all at once. However, to make lasting changes, baby steps are a must. Just pick one or two things you want to work on before moving on to the next thing.
Keep putting one foot in front of the other. You got this!
Bonus tip for Christian Moms:
If you’re a Christian mom, you probably know that self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit.
The way we attain the fruit of the spirit that we desire is by faith through the Holy Spirit. But when we, as Christian moms put God on the back burner, self-control (and all the other “fruit”) eludes us. As Christian moms, we absolutely must make our relationship with Christ a priority.
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