Okay, I will admit it… I am not always calm as a parent. I have definitely raised my voice. And I have lost my patience on more than one occasion. Having kids has pushed buttons that I never knew existed.
Like you, before becoming a parent, I envisioned being a calm, rational parent. So, every time that I raised my voice to make my point, I felt like I’ve dropped the ball. I have noticed that if I do stay calm and rational when my child is acting out or frustrated, my child responds better. This was especially apparent during the toddler tantrum years.
If you approach a child’s crisis in a calm demeanor, you’d be surprised how swiftly you can rationally analyze and solve the situation. Your child will often settle down quickly when calmly presented with potential solutions. The result is an end to the tantrum and the situation becoming completely under control.
Aren’t those parenting moments the best? When you are able to peacefully help solve your child’s problem without the whole neighborhood hearing the exchange.
The Science Behind Staying Calm
Two interesting studies were completed examining how parental stress affects their children.
- A 2014 University of California study, published in Psychological Science, separated mothers and their infants for a short time. While apart, the mothers were exposed to a mild stressor. Once the baby and mother were reunited, the child emulated the same negative stress. The baby sensed that the mother was stressed and exhibited these same emotions!
- In a more recent 2018 study, also from the University of California, researchers gave a parent and child a frustrating lab challenge. The children who remained calm and focused were those whose parents also exhibited this calmness amidst the challenge.
What’s the take-away from these two studies? It means that as a parent, your child is exposed to your emotions and will emulate them. Your emotions are actually contagious!
I fully understand that you can’t avoid stress all the time. Sometimes, we just don’t have the patience to stay calm with our kids. We aren’t all superhero’s, but we can definitely strive to control our emotions.
Stress and Sleep Training
Controlling your emotions is even harder if you’re sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation causes you to be short-tempered, easily agitated, and there is a greater chance that your voice raises a few decibels. In other words, you’re stressed.
And remember, your stress is contagious. Your kids will also become stressed, cranking up their cortisol, which keeps them awake. It’s a vicious cycle. If only they would sleep, you could sleep!!
Creating an independent sleeper is the solution. However, sleep training can be a little stressful at first. So, my suggestion is to prepare how you’re going to respond in tough situations. You can breathe deeply or do some activities that you know put you in a calm state, like mediation, yoga, or exercise.
Another huge tip is to make sure you and your partner are both onboard with the sleep training plan. Discuss ahead of time who’s taking what shift in the night and how to keep your actions consistent.
The Results Are Worth It
Imagine how patient you’ll be after a full night’s sleep!
If everything goes according to plan, you’ll start seeing improvements by night three of sleep training. Relief is just around the corner!
Remember those parenting moments that make us feel like we know what we’re doing? Those times that we stayed calm and rationally solved our child’s struggles. These are going to come more frequently when you’re no longer sleep deprived. You’re going to feel like you just won the World Parenting Championship all the time!
If you’d like to know how sleep training can change your family’s sleep and your whole life, we’d love to chat. Feel free to send me an email and let me know what’s going on.