KAT ATTACK by Katherine Umberger

Dear Kat,
I have such a hard time dealing with my kids. It’s like they
purposely take a bad situation and make it worse. It seems
every time I’m stressed out, they begin screaming and whining
and I usually end up yelling back at them. Do you have
any suggestions?
“Yelling Mom”

Dear “Yelling Mom,”
It is hard enough to deal with stressful situations
let alone adding a few unruly kids into the equation.
My first suggestion is to look at how you deal with
stressful situations on your own.
If your kids aren’t around and you are faced with
a problem, do you calmly look at the situation to
come up with a solution or do you tend to panic
first? If you tend to panic first you are doing the
same thing that your kids are doing—making the
situation worse.
Take some time to practice problem solving and
being flexible without your kids so that you can
focus on yourself and staying calm. Not every-thing
will go just as planned so have a backup plan just in
case—it also helps to have some flexibility so you
can rearrange your plans if need be. Now you’re
ready to throw kiddos into the mix!
Say for example you just bought groceries and
everyone is helping carry them in when suddenly
you find yourself and your kids locked out of the
house. You’re frustrated, angry—the kids are freaking
out and screaming. This is obviously something
you didn’t plan for.
First, get a handle on the situation. Bring the kids
together and hug them, they are scared and feeling
your frustration. They need your reassurance.
Calm your kids and get them to play in the yard
or if it’s too cold, sit in the car together and tell
stor-ies or sing songs—you have groceries with you,
maybe give them a snack. Once they are calm sit
down and start problem solving. Does someone else
have a key that they can get to you? Do you need to
call a locksmith?
Whatever the issue is you will be able to work
through it now that you’ve had time to calm down
and ensure that your kids are OK. Taking the time
to sooth them has given you time to calm yourself
as well. So, you have already solved one problem—
now you’ll feel more empowered to tackle the challenge
of being locked out.
Come up with several options and work through
each one, picking the best one. Don’t just freak out
with your screaming kids and smash a window to
get in!
Once you’ve decided what you are going to set
into motion, be prepared to wait. Your kids will
probably get restless and waiting will be hard for
you as well. On the plus side this is an excellent
learning opportunity for your kids.
Calmly let them know that you are locked out of
the house, accidents happen and nobody is to blame
(it’s useless to play the blame game and have everyone
argue about it, this won’t help your situation).
Then give them a choice—if they want to cry and
whine that’s fine but it probably won’t help anyone
feel better and it certainly won’t be very fun.
Let them know they can play games or tell stories
until help comes and let them choose. By doing this
you are making your kids aware that they can make
it worse or make the best of it. Offer them choices
that will help them feel like they have control over
something when they’re feeling so out of control.
You are also setting them up for success—when
they are met with stressful situations later in life,
they will have the mindset and skills to know that
“wigging out” will not help and they will know that
taking time to calm down IS WORTH IT!
You will be pleasantly surprised at how fast your
kids will pick this up! I bet the next time you have
something unexpected happen, your kids will tell
each other not to cry or whine because it isn’t helping.
Good luck, “Yelling Mom!”