How to Create a Guilt-Free Parenting Zone

I just read an article that said if my child ignores my anger, then it’s an indication that he or she has seen too much of it and has developed defenses against it.

Um … not so much, Mr. Child Rearing Expert.

When my daughter was almost a year old, I made a conscious decision to see if yelling at her would make her stop punching the cat in the face. This was the first time I had yelled at her.  She laughed in my face and continued her shenanigans.

Let’s face it; your little one is a badgering menace and a cute little cuddle-bug wrapped up in one jelly faced emotional roller coaster.

Have you ever wondered, “How could I feel so tangled up in love and irritation at the same time?”

Rule #1: You can’t negotiate with terrorists

And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, you are the hostage.

Why? Because your heartstrings can be pulled even while you’re catching regurgitated rice in your hands. “Oh honey…”

Ever wonder where your life went while your nagging, illogical, lunatic child asks you for a hot dog for the 14th time in 30 seconds? Trust, patience, and time are foreign concepts to these little creatures. They have mastered the Buddhist concept of living in the perpetual now moment. I want. I want. I want. Joy.

Rule #2: You can’t live on Crisis Island

Have you ever felt guilty about being angry at your kiddo as your blood pressure spikes and your temper matches the color of the Little Engine That Could?  Welcome to Crisis Island.

Oh yeah, did I tell you that Crisis Island is volcanic and it’s spewing red hot lava everywhere? So you have to leave quickly.

Here are three tips that have helped me combat the urge to lock my child in the closet.

1. Keep a sentimental picture of your little one in your wallet.

Find one that elicits that warm, fuzzy, nurturing, motherly instinct. Pull that picture out at times like these, gaze at it for a few seconds, while taking a few deep breaths. Let yourself remember the good times. A little perspective goes a long way.

2. You can’t always control a baby wildcat.

No one can, however, the more you practice the Jedi Mind Trick below, the better you get at shifting from anger to appreciation.

Trick: Practice being as pissed off as you can possibly be for 15 seconds. Squeeze all muscles and make yourself as tight and rigid as you can — then let go completely and relax.

Next, shift gears and go on a “Rampage of Appreciation” and start being grateful for everything good in your life: a healthy child, your health, a car that works so well, your relationships, your home, the dishwasher, good coffee, your cell phone, toilet paper … It doesn’t take long before your are appreciating everything around you.

None of what you’re appreciating is perfect, but the idea is to appreciate all the parts of your life that are working. You’ll quickly find they outweigh the parts of your life that aren’t. This simple shift will create new neural circuits in your brain! Hallelujah for hard wiring happiness!

3. When the going gets tough, the tough draw a bath.

Close the door and scream under the water as loud and often as it takes to release the tension. (Obviously, make sure someone is watching your child while you’re in the tub.)

I leave you with this quote from the queen of parenting humor, Erma Bombeck:

“Somewhere it is written that parents who are critical of other people’s parenting and publicly admit they can do better, are asking for it.”

So what can you do?