I remember watching a program on parenting on TV. That particular night, the topic was “how to deal with temper tantrums” and all I can really remember about that program is that the parenting expert kept saying: “You must remain calm and confident at all times.” These words stuck in my mind at the time, most likely because that’s exactly what I often felt unable to do. How was I ever going to get to a stage where I would actually feel calm and confident now that I was a single dad?
Kids instinctively know how to press your buttons and like to do so on occasion. Maybe, they just want to test your metal, check out the boundaries and see how far they can go. Not that I think there is any malice in this type of misbehavior, I’d rather say that that’s just what kids need to do sometimes.
It easy to be calm and confident when the weather is fine and you are having a good time with your kids, it’s not so easy when you are running late for work and one of your little ones just refuses point blank to put on her/his shoes. How do you stay calm and confident, then?
The entire confidence issue keeps cropping up for many of us and I had, at some stage, no choice but to take the bull by the horns and teach me some tricks, for my own sake as much as for the sake of my kids.
The following techniques and approaches have helped me a lot and I hope that they will be of some use to you too:
- Be Clear in Your Approach: Being clear in your approach to parenting issues is essential. This may be on little matters like when to send the kids to bed or may concern bigger issues like whether your child is allowed to go for a slumber party. Make up your mind and stick with your decision. At least then, you will not waiver, the kids will know your precise position and will have to accept it. Whenever I doubt myself or am unsure about an issue, it’s impossible to remain calm. I therefore try to hold a clear position and confidently uphold my decisions.
- Embrace Imperfections: When you accept that you are going to get it wrong and that your kids simply can’t be saints, a lot of pressure eases off, making it more likely for you to remain calm and confident.
- Believe in Yourself and Your Efforts: The vast majority of single parents I know do their very best and ultimately I believe that to suffice. If you can look in the mirror and say to yourself that you are doing the best you can, acknowledge your efforts and allow your self-belief to emerge.
- Don’t Beat Yourself Up When Things Go Pear-Shaped: Giving yourself a hard time when things go wrong will only make you miserable and your self-reproach will make you unhappy. Such negativity will ultimately reach your kids, so you are better off being kind and forgiving to yourself.
- Take a Deep Breath: When you find yourself seeing red, take some time out, distract yourself and the kids and put some distance between the red rag and yourself. Just taking a deep breath can make a world of difference.
- Try to Have a Giggle: Having fun actually greatly increases your confidence as a parent and makes you feel calm too!
- Do Something Nice for Yourself Once in Awhile: Treating yourself now and again will make you feel good about yourself and ultimately, self-confidence is rooted in self-acceptance and self-acceptance is possible when you are nice to yourself.
- Look at Your Kids With Gratitude: Make an effort to look at your kids and appreciate all the good times as well as how far you’ve come as a little family.
Being a single parents takes courage and tenacity, but we all have a tendency to grow into our roles. We know we can do it, we do all we can and our kids can be sure of our tender loving care and when you remember all of that you will be able to remain calm and confident, at least some of the time!