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26 phrases to calm your angry child

Whether your child has a slow-burning fuse or explodes like a firecracker at the slightest provocation, every child can benefit from anger management skills. As parents, we lay the foundation for this skill set by governing our own emotions in the face an angry outburst.


Next time you are dealing with a tantrum from a toddler, or cold shoulder from a teen, put your best foot forward by trying one of these 26 phrases:

1. Instead of: Stop throwing things

Try: When you throw your toys, I think you don’t like playing with them. Is that what’s going on?

This speaker/listener technique is designed to help communicate feelings in a non-confrontational manner. Not only does this keep the lines of communication open, you are modeling how to phrase a situation from your perspective, which in turn gives your child a chance to rephrase events in his (her) perspective.

2. Instead of: Big kids don’t do this

Try: Big kids and even grown ups sometimes have big feelings. It’s OK, these feeling will pass.

Let’s be honest. The older your kids get, the bigger the problems they face, the bigger the feelings they have. Telling them that big kids don’t experience anger, frustration, or anxiety is simply untrue. It also encourages children to avoid or quash emotions and prevents processing them in a healthy manner.

3. Instead of: Don’t be angry

Try: I get angry too sometimes. Let’s try our warrior cry to get those angry feelings in check.

A recent study reveals that yelling when we are physically hurt can actually interrupt pain messages being sent to the brain. Although your child may not be in pain per se, a warrior cry can work to release angry energy in a playful manner. Choose a warrior cry or mantra together with your child (think of William Wallace from the movie Brave Heart screaming “Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom!”).

4. Instead of: Don’t you dare hit

Try: It’s OK to be angry, but I won’t let you hit. We need to keep everyone safe.

This gets the message firmly across that the emotion is okay, but the action is not. Separating the two will help your child learn to do likewise

5. Instead of: You’re being so difficult

Try: This is a tough one, huh? We’re going to figure this out together.

When children are digging in their heels, it is important to understand why. This phrase reinforces the idea that you are on the same team, working toward the same goal.

6. Instead of: That’s it, you’re getting a time out!

Try: Let’s go to our calm down space together.

This flips the script of “time out” to “time in,” allowing for reconnection instead of isolation.

7. Instead of: Brush your teeth right now

Try: Do you want to brush Elmo’s teeth first or yours?

For toddlers, tantrums are a way to exert control over their environment. This way, you are offering your toddler a choice, and in turn, some control.

8. Instead of: Eat your food or you will go to bed hungry

Try: What can we do to make this food yummy?

This places the responsibility of finding a solution back on your child.

9. Instead of: Your room is disgusting! You are grounded unless this gets clean.

Try: How about we just start cleaning this itty bitty corner of your room? I’ll give you a hand.

In lieu of focusing on the overwhelming task of cleaning up a huge mess, shift the goal to simply starting. Starting an undesirable task can provide the impetus and momentum to continue.

10. Instead of: We. Are. LEAVING

Try: What do you need to do to be ready to leave?

Allow children to think through processes for the transitions in their lives. This helps avoid a power struggle and it gives them a chance to signal to their minds that they are making a transition to a new activity. This is also an excellent routine to role-play when you are not actually going anywhere.

11. Instead of: Stop whining

Try: How about a quick “do over” in your normal voice?

Sometimes kids whine and don’t even realize it. By asking them to rephrase in a normal tone, you are teaching them that the way they say things matters.

12. Instead of: Stop complaining

Try: I hear you. Can you come up with a solution?

Again, this places the responsibility back on the child. Next time your child is complaining non-stop about school/dinner/siblings, ask her to brainstorm solutions. Remind her there are no wrong answers, and the sillier she is, the better.

13. Instead of: How many times do I have to say the same thing???

Try: I can see you didn’t hear me the first time. How about when I say it to you, you whisper it back to me?

Having your child repeat back what he hears solidifies your message. Varying the volume adds an element of fun to the request.

14. Instead of: Stop getting frustrated

Try: Is that ___ too hard right now? Let’s take a break and come back to it in 17 minutes.

It sounds random, but a research-based formula for productivity is to work for 52 minutes, break for 17. By taking a break from task-related stress, you come back to it ready to begin again, focused and more productive than before. The same concept applies to homework, practicing the piano, or playing a sport.

15. Instead of: Go to your room

Try: I’m going to stay right here by you until you’re ready for a hug.

Again, isolation sends the message that there is something wrong with your child. By giving her space until she is ready to re-engage, you are providing reassurance that you will always be there for her.

16. Instead of: You are embarrassing me

Try this: Let’s go somewhere private so we can sort this out.

Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about him and his feelings. By removing both of you from the situation, you are reinforcing the team effort without drawing attention to the behavior.

17. Instead of: (Sighing and rolling your eyes)

Try: (Make eye contact, remember your child’s greatest strengths, and give her a compassionate smile.)

Practice keeping it in perspective by seeing the strengths in your child.

18. Instead of: You are impossible

Try: You are having a tough time. Let’s figure this out together.

Always, always separate the behavior from the child, reinforce the emotion, and work together to come up with a solution.

19. Instead of: Stop yelling!

Try: I’m going to pretend I’m blowing out birthday candles. Will you do it with me?

Deep breathing helps restore the body to a calm state. Being playful with how you engage in the breathing hastens cooperation. For older children, ask them to breathe with you like Darth Vadar does.

20. Instead of: I can’t deal with you right now

Try: I’m starting to get frustrated, and I’m going to be right here calming down.

Teach children how to label and govern their emotions by modeling this in real time.

21. Instead of: I’m done talking

Try: I love you. I need you to understand that it is not okay to ____. Is there anything you need me to understand?

This keeps the lines of communication open while expressing the emotion in a healthy way.

22. Instead of: I am at the end of my rope

Try: If green is calm, yellow is frustrated, and red is angry, I’m in the yellow zone headed toward red. What color are you? What can we do to get back to green?

Give children a visual to express how they are feeling. It may surprise you what they say, and what kind of solutions they comes up with to change their direction.

23. Instead of: I am NOT changing it

Try: I’m sorry you don’t like how I ___. How can we do better next time?

Shifting the focus from the event to the solution eliminates the power struggle associated with digging in your heels about the event.

24. Instead of: Stop saying “No!”

Try: I hear you saying “No.” I understand you do not want this. Let’s figure out what we can do differently.

By acknowledging your child’s “No,” you are de-escalating the situation. Rather than arguing yes/no, change the script to focus on the future and the prospect of a solution.

25. Instead of: Stop overreacting

Try: You are having a big reaction to a big emotion. If your emotion had a monster’s face, what would it look like?

When kids are tired, hungry, or overstimulated, they are going to overreact. Putting a face to the emotion externalizes the issue and allows children to respond to their inner monologue of anger. This subsequently helps them exercise control over the emotion.

26. Instead of: Just stop

Try: I’m here for you. I love you. You’re safe. (Then, sit in stillness with your child and allow the emotion to rise up and pass.)

When children are in the throes of anger or panic, often their bodies are experiencing a stress response whereby they literally feel unsafe. Letting them know they are safe supports them until the discomfort passes. This is a vital skill of resilience.

A version of this article was originally published on Positive Parents.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent. Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, is more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued so the crisis can be averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

For me, the fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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