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How to avoid feeling terrible after snapping at your child

Genevieve Muir

Genevieve Muir

Obstetric Social Worker and Parent Educator. Working at the Mater hospital in Sydney and also a mother to four beautiful boys Genevieve is passionate about helping families in Sydney and beyond adapt to the modern parenting world and all its challenges and not only survive but thrive.
Created on Oct 17, 2023 · 2 mins read
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I’ve yet to meet a parent who doesn’t occasionally lose it with their kids. You’re stretched to your limit, stressed, pushed too far and snap. It usually happens when something our kids do triggers something in our past, and we operate from a sense of fear instead of love.

You yell. You say things you don’t mean. You send your kid away from you.

And then you feel terrible.

The good news is our kids don’t need perfect parents. In fact, evidence shows it’s important for our children to observe their primary caregiver learning from our mistakes.

When we muck it up it’s an opportunity to demonstrate the ability to say “sorry, I got that wrong…. can we start again?”

What to do when you feel guilty about losing it with your child.

1. Calm yourself

Take a minute to breathe. This is a good opportunity for what I call a “parental time out”. It’s important we tell our kids that it is us and not them in the time out.

This models the ability to take a minute to regulate before reacting which is also good for our kids.

2. Say sorry

When you’re ready simply say, “sorry, I got that wrong”…. aim for genuine physical connection and don’t use many words or try to explain why you reacted like that.

3. Keep it simple, and physically close

Our kids feel connection much more through physical gesture than words, so it is less about what we say than what we do. I recommend you hug your child and hold the hug until they physically wriggle away from you. This allows them to take as long as they need to repair.

4. Resist any urge to teach or provide a lesson.

Don’t use the word BUT when you say sorry.

“I’m sorry but if you had only listened” …. and don’t collapse “I’m sorry, mummy is hopeless and a terrible parent” simply say I’m sorry. That’s enough.

5. Keep it real

Kids are truth detectives! They need the apology needs to be genuine.

The moments when we get it wrong provide the most beautiful opportunities for connection as long as we are willing to be vulnerable and say sorry.

The main thing to remember is we are all human and we all make mistakes. Be kind to yourself because parenting is a really tough gig some days and you are doing the best you can.

How do you go with saying sorry?

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