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How can we stay calm when our children are not?

These times bring challenges for both adults and children alike. Some children are finding it tough not seeing their friends, family and teachers which can lead to stress and anxiety. Family tensions can increase with parents juggling the challenges of working from home whilst supporting home-learning for their children.

How can the ‘regulate, relate and repair’ approach help?
This is a simple three step approach parents and carers can use with children and young people of all ages.

  1. Regulate – If your child is demonstrating challenging behaviour try to remain calm and regulate your own behaviour, response and emotions. If your child is stressed and emotional they will not respond in a controlled way. Try to use assertive language rather than demand language. Try to avoid the power play. For example, avoid telling them what they should do or insisting they listen to and agree with your point of view. Don’t take bait, this will help de-escalate the situation. Remind your child that this situation will pass. Make sure your child has the space to calm down. Take a step back to allow your child time to calm down.

  2. Relate – Remain calm – remember the mantra; when the adults change everything changes! Listen and tune in to the ‘issue’ – be curious. Empathise with your child. Ask your child to explain what has happened rather than asking, ‘why did you do that?’. This can help them open up and start to reflect on what has happened. Ask your child to explain how their behaviour made them feel. Ask them to explain how their behaviour might have made others feel. This can help children to understand the impact of their own behaviour on themselves and others.

Some questions to consider asking your child:

  • What happened?
  • What did you do?
  • What might/should you have done?
  • What will you do next time?
  • Is that fair?

3. Repair – Work together with your child to put things right and find a solution together. This doesn’t have to be a sanction. Remind them that you will always love them but you don’t have to like their behaviour etc. Work out a calm time to talk and explore together strategies to diffuse /deal with future situations. Agree that emotions are high, reactions will be intense and know not to take things too personally. Remind yourselves, how would I respond if this happened outside of lockdown?

Where can I seek further advice?
For more help and advice, you can subscribe to StarLive, our weekly YouTube series that explores aspects of home-learning, parenting and education. You can also call StarLine and speak to one of our specialists.

You can watch Episode 4 of StarLive – The one about staying calm when they’re not – here.

Barnardo’s also has some useful advice about coping with family conflict during lockdown,