Handling Frustration As a Parent
We all have frustrations every once in a while. As mothers, we need to be careful how we respond to our frustrations because our kids are watching us and will repeat our behaviors. What follows is guidance on frustration management: it is in question-and-answer format for easy reading.
Q: Should moms share with their kids when they are feeling frustrated? Why/why not?
A: It’s ok to calmly acknowledge to your kids that you are feeling frustrated. If you never discuss your feelings with your kids, your kids may grow up thinking it’s not ok to discuss frustrations . . . or, worse still, your kids may grow up thinking that frustrations shouldn’t happen as adults, thus causing them to have reality-shock when they’re grown (or a sense of guilt when they do end up feeling frustrated as adults). However, when you’re telling your kids that you’re feeling frustrated, it’s best to share your feelings calmly and generally. You don’t need to rattle off to your kids a list of the day’s challenges, nor do you need to explain with raised voice just how upset you are. A calm acknowledgement that you are feeling frustrated is appropriate.
Q: Why is it dangerous for moms to give in to their frustrations when kids are watching?
A: Your kids learn how to behave based on the behaviors they observe in others. As parents, we are the primary “others” whose behaviors our kids observe. It’s essential, then, that you manifest the behaviors that you want your kids to exhibit. If you behave contrary to your own expectations, your kids will too. Do you want your kids to handle frustrations with grace, composure, and understanding? Or would you rather your kids handle frustrations with anger, raised voices, unsafe driving, and alcohol?
Q: How can moms handle stress and anxiety in a way that teaches coping strategies to their kids?
A: Keep frustrations in perspective. Is this a big deal? Is it worth getting upset about? Can you try to understand the perspectives of the others involved in the situation that is frustrating you? Will you be better able to resolve the matter if you remain calm? Does walking away from the frustration serve you better than continuing to try to be heard by individuals who are not, as yet, receptive? What is your big-picture anticipated outcome from your situation? Can you achieve that outcome by acting out? By asking these questions before you react to your frustrations, you can select the reaction that’s best.
Q: Why is it important to do so?
A: Our kids are mirrors. They reflect what they see. Let them see the best in you . . . so that you can bring out the best in them.
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