6 coping strategies for when the kids are driving you insane

Like it? Share it…

401

6 Coping Strategies for when the Kids are driving you Insane

Parenting is hard work. It’s so damn relentless. And sometimes, when I’ve been up half the night, Bee is hanging off me like cling wrap, and JJ is whining about the hundredth thing that hour, I just want to SCREAM.

But you know what? Yelling rarely helps, it just makes us all flustered, and it isn’t the sort of environment that I want my kids to grow up in. Sometimes I still do yell – I’m not perfect. But here are a few better other coping strategies that I’ve found can help turn a cranky situation around in a more calm and controlled way.

 

1. Sit down on the floor

I do this several times a day, and it works miracles. Sitting on the floor forces me to stop whatever I was doing and give my full attention to my kids – which is usually what they really wanted anyway. On the floor I am at their level, I can look them in the eye and they can both climb into my lap for cuddles at the same time. After a cuddle and a chat, everyone can re-centre themselves, and go back to whatever we were doing in a much calmer frame of mind.

 

2. Narrate & empathise

If JJ is whinging, I find it effective to narrate back to her what is going on. The more detail I can include, the more effective I find this to be. I might say something like “Daddy was spinning you on the chair and you were having fun. Then Daddy had to stop and that made you feel sad. You wished that Daddy could keep spinning you. You’re feeling a bit disappointed that he stopped.” When I’m using this technique, I don’t propose a solution to the problem. I don’t, for instance, offer to spin JJ on the chair myself or suggest something else she could do instead. I let JJ decide what the next course of action will be. Sometimes she’ll ask for my help, but usually just being listened to is enough.

 

3. Feed them

My kids often start whining when they are hungry or tired, and in either case, giving them something to eat usually helps. Even if it is close to dinner time, I don’t mind if they spoil their appetite on capsicum, celery or carrot sticks that would have been part of their dinner anyway. Fresh crunchy snow peas or slices of cucumber are great too. Frozen peas (uncooked, straight from the freezer) are really quick to put in a bowl if I don’t have time to cut up anything, and the kids gobble them up. I find that they are much more likely to eat these sort of vegies before dinner when they are starving, than if I wait and serve them up with dinner. And the change in the kids is miraculous. With food in their tummies, cranky kids turn into giggling gerties in seconds.

 

4. Establish boundaries

Where you are going to establish rules, make them easy to understand, repeat them often and stick to them all the time. Use ‘we’ statements. Some of the rules in our house are “We don’t eat on the carpet” and “We don’t play on the stairs”. Everyone knows them, and everyone (including parents and visitors) abide by them. If the rules are clear and consistent, kids will feel the need to test the boundaries less often.

 

5. Make believe

This trick sounds like it won’t work. but it actually does (if used sparingly). When JJ asks for something, instead of saying “No”, I say “Imagine if…” and describe an exaggerated scene in a playful voice. For example we were lining up at the cash registers yesterday and JJ wanted a chocolate bar. I said “Imagine if the whole checkout was made of chocolate! Or maybe it could me made out of different sorts of lollies. The conveyor belt could be made out of licorice!” She delightedly joined in this imaginary game and start guessing what sweet each part of the checkout would be. And she completely forgot that she wanted to buy a chocolate in the first place.

 

6. Take a parental time out

Sometimes I need to take five minutes for myself. To ignore the fact that the kids are destroying the place, and instead focus on taking a deep breath and going to my happy place. Right now, my happy place is this photo up on my kitchen wall. It’s an afternoon on a Mexican beach, from a time back when I was unencumbered…

My+Happy+Place+up+on+our+kitchen+wall_p

Or sometimes my happy place is inside the pantry, sneaking a sanity-saving chocolate biscuit (or three).

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, and I wouldn’t wish my life to be any other way. But sometimes they just do my head in….

What are your tips? How do you cope?

xx Danya

(JJ is currently 3 years and 9 months, and these strategies have been working since she was a toddler. We’re also starting to use these same techniques with Bee, who is currently 18 month old.)

Like it? Share it…

401

25 Comments


  1. this is just what I needed. I often use the feed them trick lol but I really love the sit on the floor & the imaginative make believe. Ill have to keep them up my sleeve.

    Reply

  2. I find I have to stop what I want to be doing and just sit with them, it usually works wonders.
    Getting out of the house and going somewhere we don't usually go helps too.
    It is hard work some days 🙂
    My recent post Autumn garden

    Reply
    • Danya Banya

      I agree getting out of the house can work wonders. Even if it is just to wander up to the letter box (and see if we can find anything to look at one the way). I don't take the girls somewhere new by myself very often, I find it a bit overwhelming with the two of them running off in two different directions. But now that JJ is becoming more predictable and responsible, I should probably start doing this more.

      Reply

  3. These are such good ideas! I think the 'narrate' one will work wonders for my little guy to feel like he's being heard. With two older sisters, I know he often gets overlooked in the craziness of girls' voices! Thanks for sharing!
    My recent post It's Hard to be a Momma, and That's Okay

    Reply
    • Danya Banya

      Thank you, and yeah I reckon it is a great idea for younger siblings who'll appreciate the attention. I narrate for my 18 month old when she is has a (minor) fall, and I've noticed that she'll stop crying to listen to my description of what happened. She'll start crying again afterwards, but with only a fraction of the gusto (plus hearing me say out loud what she just did is great for her language skills). xx

      Reply

  4. Some really fab tips here.

    I also let my kids know how I'm feeling, and if all else fails I pack them up and leave the house. We go to the park or to visit Nanna. Sometimes we even pick up a coffee and take it to Daddy at work 🙂
    My recent post Using Books to Create Small World Play Scenes

    Reply
    • Danya Banya

      Thanks Jackie. I love your suggestion of letting the kids know how you are feeling. It would be a great way to teach them that other people have emotions too, and you could model coping techniques.

      Reply
  5. Kate Moonen

    Some really useful tips there Danya! I love the sit on floor, and will try this one. I only have the kids all say on Wednesdays (as I work other days) and by far that is my hardest day of the week!

    I sometimes find making them laugh with ridiculous faces / voices can help turn a bad situation around.

    Reply
    • Danya Banya

      Thanks Kate! I only have both by myself for two days, and yes it's so hard! Laughter is such good medicine, I'll try pulling a funny face next time and see what happens 🙂 Lately I've been putting on music to create a mood shift too….

      Reply
  6. katepickle2

    Love these… the sitting on the floor one is so simple but so great!
    My recent post Talk to Your Kids

    Reply
    • Danya Banya

      Thanks Kate 🙂

      Reply

  7. Great tips Danya. Now that my kids are bigger I can sometimes distract them with an activity, or give a small prompt to play eg. saying something like "have your babies had their dinner yet?" to my 4 year old. The best advice that ever helped me with kids behavioural issues was when somebody told me that it's not normal for kids to behave well all the time so we shouldn't expect them to. Once I remind myself of that it feels easier to cope with the more difficult moments.
    My recent post Sensory Play: Sandbox diamond mine

    Reply
    • Danya Banya

      Thanks Kate, and you have a wise friend!

      Reply

  8. I love these! Especially sitting on the floor. Pinning.
    My recent post Desperate Dinners: Mashed Potato Bowls

    Reply
    • Danya Banya

      Thanks!

      Reply
  9. LaughingKidsLearn

    Oh I've been known to 'hang out' in kitchen cupboard eating a couple of sneaky biscuits. Glad I'm not alone. But quiet seriously, your list of strategies are really practical and helpful. I hope it's something that all parents read because parenting is a tough job.
    My recent post Pasta threading activity for toddlers

    Reply
    • Danya Banya

      Thanks Kate! There are some occasions when only chocolate biscuits are the answer. xx

      Reply

  10. I really enjoyed reading this post Danya. I’ve found myself yelling more than I’d like to of late but I think I sometimes expect they don’t need my attention as much being older. Maybe getting back down on the floor more is what we all need here.

    Reply
    • Danya Banya

      Thanks Nichole, hope a bit of floor time works. 🙂

      Reply

  11. Excellent tips Danya. I feel like I should print this post out and stick it on my fridge!

    Reply
    • Danya Banya

      Thanks Kylez!!!

      Reply
  12. Have A Laugh On Me

    A great post Danya, and I'll try the floor one more – as that sounds about right with my boys, or food, it's always food! I've also been known to hide my room and then 2 minutes later hear the boys calling out for me! 🙂

    Reply
    • Danya Banya

      haha, whatever works!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

16 − one =