Expert Parenting Advice
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Why did no-one warn me about glitter

Why you need to learn to stay calm when your kids are upset, and a simple technique to do that.


Inkwina, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

More than a year ago, I innocently bought my kids some glitter for their crafting.

That was a mistake.

This morning I found some more glitter on the carpet besides my bed.

Last week, I discovered one of my jackets is covered with glitter.

The kids haven't played with glitter in months, but still everywhere I go in my house I am sure to find some glitter.

No-one warned me about glitter before I had kids.

There are actually a few things no-one warned me about before I had kids. Here's what I should have been told:

"Immune system. What immune system? Be prepared to get sick...a lot."

"Bodily fluids will hold no mystery for you anymore."

"You are not the calm, patient person you assume that you are."

That last one is actually the one that has gotten me the most. Before kids, I thought of myself as very patient and calm.

But, staying calm when my kids are emotional is probably one of the hardest parts of being a parent for me.

Here's the thing: Managing your own emotions is a critical part of being a parent. Because when you can stay calm when your kids upset you, they learn from you, and also become better able to stay calm in the future.

When we spoke to Nathan Wallis, a neuroscience educator, for our book How To Get Kids To Listen, he shared why it is so important to be able to stay calm when your kids get upset.

Yeah, I think parents have to know what their triggers are. I think all good interactions involve at least one frontal cortex, and since children’s often disappear when they’re stressed, it’s doubly important that we as parents try and keep our own frontal cortex present and don’t ignite our own emotional brain.

Nathan Wallis

In the interview, Nathan also shared a specific strategy that he uses and teaches that you can use to stay calm when you feel yourself getting mad.

By training yourself to use this technique, you not only will be able to stay calmer, you will also show your kids how to stay in control.

When I remember to do this, I also tell my kids what I am doing, so that they not only know that I am angry, but also that I am trying to control my emotions, and how they can do the same.