Expert Parenting Advice
Practical parenting tips and advice from experts around the world

Snakes on a plane

Why staying calm when your kids upset you is so important. And tips from a parenting expert to turn anger into teachable moments.


Nava nivea

One morning a while back, I was getting out of the shower, and just as I was starting to dry myself I saw a big black spider crawling towards me on my towel.

Obviously, I freaked out and threw the towel across the room. I didn't even think about it, I just reacted.

But this morning I read about a South African pilot who was flying his light aircraft, when suddenly he felt a something cold slide across his lower back.

He looked down, only to see the head of a large Cape cobra slithering back into his seat.

Now, the Cape cobra is one of the most dangerous species of cobra in all of Africa, because it has a very strong venom that can kill you in just one hour after being bitten.

I'm pretty sure that I would have crashed the plane...

But this pilot remained calm, contacted air traffic control, and flew around for another 15 minutes with the venomous snake slithering around his feet until he could make an emergency landing.

I have a lot of respect for this pilot, because I feel that the ability to stay calm under stressful situations is so important.

It is not just important when you feel snakes slithering around your back while piloting a plane, but also when your kids won't stop fighting after you've told them to stop a thousand times and then the older one pushes the younger one and she gets really hurt and starts crying and then you finally lose your cool and start shouting at the eldest and he starts crying and suddenly everyone is upset or crying (story of my morning).

The thing is, once you lose control of your emotions, you often end up saying things that feel good in the moment, but that you end up regretting afterwards.

I think every parent struggles with this problem.

Even Julie King, the co-author of two best-selling books “How To Talk So LITTLE Kids Will Listen” and “How To Talk When Kids Won’t Listen”, said the following when we interviewed her:

When my kids were younger, I would notice I was going to that place where I felt like I wanted to yell, let’s just say, very unhelpful things ... I wanted to say some loud, hurtful things to my kids when I was really frustrated ... And I knew when that happened, that saying the things that I felt like saying was going to feel good in the moment, but it was not going to feel good in the long run.

Julie King

In the interview, Julie goes on to share two strategies that she used to deal with these situations when she got mad or frustrated.

By doing these, Julie not only stayed calm, but actually turned these frustrating situations into learning opportunities for her kids, by teaching them the best way to deal with strong emotions.

You can find the full interview with Julie King - How to use playfulness to get your child to cooperate (even when you aren’t feeling playful) - here.