Staying Calm With Children: 5 Practical Tips

Staying calm with children can be extraordinarily difficult at times. It seems our children are wired to wind us up until we snap. Many parents, including myself, strive to be mindful and considered in our parenting choices but in one moment of distraction it is easy to find ourselves being triggered and unable to stop the barrage that results.

5 Practical Tips for Staying Calm With Children ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

For respectful parenting to work, it is vital that parents are able to keep a cool and as my mentor, Janet Lansbury, says, ‘unruffled’ exterior when dealing with a child’s behaviour – that, for me, is the hard part. It sometimes takes all my strength, determination and most of all self-belief to achieve this but I can truly attest to the fact that my children respond far better and thrive the most when I am consistently able to steady myself and keep a peaceful yet firm exterior when they push me to my limits.

The days I am feeling sluggish, stressed or overwhelmed by accumulating housework are usually the days my tolerance levels are lowest. Coincidentally (or not), these days also usually happen to be the days my children seem especially clingy, whingey, demanding and testing!

When I have my own agenda for the day; things I am trying to achieve around the house, this is when I find myself less tolerant and less able to stay calm and accepting of difficult behaviours.

So I have, over time, developed practices which all contribute to me being more mindful, less stressed and better able to remain the peaceful parent I strive to be.

1. Mentally prepare for the day ahead

I do this by reading inspiring blog posts or a chapter of a great parenting book or listening to a motivating podcast. I am usually woken early in the morning by my children so I normally do this the night before, resolving to put into practice, a new technique or idea I have read the next day. Often just reading a success story or a profound Janet Lansbury post is enough to help me stay confident in my parenting throughout the day.

I write inspiring words or helpful phrases in the notebook beside my bed.

In the morning, I quickly scan these notes and I remind myself how important it is that I stay on top of my emotions and parent calmly throughout the day. Being conscious of my actions rather than just drifting mindlessly through the day really helps me stay focused on the role I have taken on. Like an actor in a play I guess.

Much of this mental preparation is centered around shifting my perspectives of the behaviours. Educating myself about the reasons behind challenging behaviours such as limit testing and tantrums really helps me to deal with them with more empathy when they occur.

2. Prepare meals on the weekend

Freeing up time during the day so I am not stressed about trying to get dinner made by a deadline with children either clinging to me or trashing something elsewhere in the house, is invaluable.

I now try to prepare the week’s meals on Sundays whilst my husband is home to help with the children. This way the weight of this daily chore is lifted. Instead I can use the week days to invite the girls into the kitchen to help, inspiring in them a love of food and cooking as we bake and create healthy goodies together with no stress or pressure to achieve a goal.

3. Make lunches and snacks at breakfast

When my husband is eating toast with the children at breakfast, I often make lunch for him to take to work. It occurred to me one day that it would be little extra effort to do the same for my children. So I bought them both lunch boxes with separate compartments for snacks, sandwiches etc and now I fill their boxes ready to pull out when hunger strikes.

So often I have been caught out having nothing prepared and having to scramble something together whilst my children bite chunks out of the cheese, dip their fingers in the butter or cry because I am not doing it the right way. And if I go to the kitchen whilst they are occupied with something else, they inevitably choose this moment to do something that demands my attention.

My stress levels increase and I sometimes have a hard time staying calm in such moments. Having everything pre-made eliminates this occurrence and also means the kitchen only needs clearing once, after breakfast, because I am not continually preparing food and dirtying dishes.

These Yumbox Original lunch boxes (affiliate link) are fantastic for organising the snacks into containers and keeping them all together. The kids love them!

4. Use care giving moments to connect

The realisation that my babies will all too soon be old enough to take care of themselves and no longer need me to look after them hit me like a tonne of bricks recently. I already knew that care giving tasks were precious bonding occasions but when I truly cherish each one, not only do my children feel more connected and better able to break away from me for extended play periods, I get my own feelings of love, joy and a sense of calm come over me when I give myself fully to my children for periods throughout the day. This further steadies my resolve to parent my children with care.

5. Reflect on the day

This is probably the most effective practice I use for becoming a more mindful, peaceful parent. There is rarely a day go by where I don’t discuss with my husband, a situation involving the children which occurred during the course of the day.

I recount blow by blow, the events leading up to the situation, the dialogue used and the ultimate outcome. Through this reflection I can think, without the pressure of the moment, and decide whether I could improve upon or change my involvement for future occurrences or whether it seemed to be quite successful as it was.

My blog writing further cements this reflection for me as I get the sense that by putting things down on paper, I am owning my actions and becoming more accountable.

I am also given so many opportunities to answer questions from readers which contributes to my reflective practice. It makes me think about scenarios that could come up for us as a family and how I would like to deal with them. It takes out some of the element of surprise, ensuring I am not having to always think on my feet with my own children.

Joining online forums and groups with like-minded parents, is also a great way to read about other people’s dilemmas and give you a chance to think about what you might do in that situation.

These are just a few of the things I have found have helped me remain the peaceful parent I am determined to be. I’m interested to hear what you do to stay unruffled when your children become challenging throughout the day.

You may also enjoy reading:

Tantrums and Meltdowns – My Secrets For Staying calm When The Kids Aren’t ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury- Elevating Childcare)

9 Best Ways to Stay (Mostly) Unruffled With Toddlers ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury- Elevating Childcare)

Self Soothing (It’s Not Just For Babies) ~ Christina Kessler (Respectful Caregiving)

5 Practical Tips for Staying Calm With Children ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

30 thoughts on “Staying Calm With Children: 5 Practical Tips

  1. Michelle

    Thanks for your great tips. Would you mind sharing some of your meal ideas? I have a one year old and dream about cooking ahead of time, especially for the whole week, but never seem to be able to get ahead enough to do so! Sounds like you have a good system…

    1. Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

      Hi Michelle,

      Of course, i’d love to share some make ahead meals with you!! I am not overly gourmet with the foods I make and also, not too adventurous. I stick with simple recipes that I know the children will eat. I usually make three large dishes which I put in the fridge and bring out on alternative nights. So if we have spag bol Monday, we might have the leftovers Wednesday with Pumpkin Soup and crusty bread to break it up on the Tuesday etc. My favourites are spaghetti bolognaise (loaded with grated vegies), chilli con carne, pumpkin soup, potato soup, enchilada bake, chicken pasta bake, corned beef with white sauce and vegies, chicken noodle soup.

      If you like, I might share some of the recipes on my fb page and invite readers to do the same so we can all see what other people’s favourties are. I also save many yummy dishes on my PPCK Pinterest page if you are looking for more ideas.

      I hope that helps. Good Luck!!

      1. Michelle

        Thanks for sharing Kate! Grated veggies are a great idea. Also, a friend of mine does theme nights “Taco Tuesdays, Pizza Thursdays” which seems to simplify things and prevent ‘decision fatigue’ 🙂

    2. munchkinkids

      Check out my kids recipe blog if you want some healthy uncomplicated recipe ideas for kids digestion. Munchkinkids/blog 🙂
      Excellent post too!! Very practical way of not making matters worse by being prepared! Love it!! 🙂

  2. jasonhamzy

    I think you offer practical advice. The underlying principal is to reduce some of the daily chores, but also to reduce the choices we have to make. Routines, and having chores streamlined through previously prepared meals and tasks, reduces our decision fatigue (yes, that’s a real thing). The intentional calmness really helps children feel secure and helps model self regulation in a graceful manner. Wonderful post for busy parents who care!

  3. Kate

    Thanks for all the inspiration. And Lunch prep at breakfast is such a great idea! I know giving him his own lunchbox will delight my little man.

  4. Dina

    Thank you, Kate, this is very inspirational.
    You approach sounds very do-able, and I love how it mixes the practical with your mental ‘work’. I will definitely give your suggestions a try.

  5. Kat

    This really hits home for me. Being a preK teacher with many chidren with challenging behaviors, staying calm and not becoming ruffled is so important.i found that instead of trying to get them to stop their disruptive behavior point blank. I switch channels and move into a song or some sort of group movement. That stops my escalation to getting frustrated, which only makes. Things worse for us all. Staying calm is key for sure. Nice to have reminders. Thank you for the. Article.

  6. Krystal

    Thank you. I think I may need to print this article as a constant reminder. I think that just being able to see it on the fridge will remind me of its powerful message.

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  9. Ms. S

    My favorite one that I use AND encourage my kids to do is simply “breathe” said in a firm but calming tone. And then we breathe in deeply and count. When I do it it helps me to clear my head as I mentally prepare for how to address a situation when a child has had an instant meltdown. It is working wonderfully for my older (who doesn’t have them as much as he use to). I had to do it tonight though as my son (5yo) had a very upset stomach and he was so upset and by the time we got to three he melted on me and relaxed. I was so glad it worked after the tears he had had 🙁 My daughter (3yo) though is still not clear on it yet though. But I’m still reminding her of it when she gets distraught over a lost toy. It is slow for her to catch on but I will keep at it because she needs to learn a tool to help her know how to cope with her emotions and I like the breathing technique because I can be right there with them, holding them if they want to be held or across the room or in my lap or in the car. Thank you for this post!!!!!!!! It is quite insightful to see how preparedness in the kitchen can go very very far to a more harmonious home!!!!!!!!

    1. Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

      Thank you Ms. S. Yes, it is great to give our children some tools to help self regulate their emotions. It is so hard in young children as their brains are not physically able to do this yet, even with an understanding of techniques to use. All we can do is support them through their emotions in the early years so they learn to trust us to be their for them in the hard times and don’t end up becoming afraid of releasing emotions when they need to. As humans, we ultimately develop areas of the brain which make us see reason much more clearly as we get older. Some people take longer to develop these than others but in the main, it is rare to find an adult who cannot manage their emotions in normal, everyday life. Knowing this, also helps me to relax about my children’s outbursts, I know that even if I don’t teach them how to stop the emotions, they will eventually be able to manage them themselves.

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  11. Free To Be

    Number 4 particularly hit a nerve with me – my 6 year old expects me to perform a lot of his personal care for him, from getting dressed to washing, and my patience with it had been wearing thin. I kept telling him how he ‘should’ be doing certain things for himself now he’s 6 (especially as they’re things that his 2 year old sister quite happily tries to do for herself). However, you’ve shifted my perspective – of course I won’t always be washing and dressing him forever. From here on in I’m going to try to use those moments to bond rather than try to reject them, especially whilst he’s only just still in the realm of being my ‘little’ boy.

    1. Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

      At age 6 I can see why you would have those expectations of your son but you are absolutely right that you won’t be washing and dressing him forever. In fact, pretty soon he won’t even want you in the bathroom and he will be asking for locks on his door – haha! Treasure the moments and enjoy the bonding! I am happy I could help you in this small way. 🙂

  12. Daniela

    This is great! I think the key to be peaceful raising kids is not taking their behavior personal. They have a lot of emotions and really don’t know how to deal with them. All your kids need is direction. I feel is key to don’t make it about yourself.

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  14. Emma

    This article has some great tips!! This is the first time I’ve stumbled apon your blog & will have to check it out further, seems like it could be just my kind of thing 🙂

  15. Janet

    So much of what you wrote is exactly what goes on in my head, in my house. I have so much more success connecting with my girls when I am consistently gentle, and I need all the help I can get right now. Thanks for the tips!

  16. Claire

    Hi dear Kate,

    Morning are very chaotic to say the least… the thought of going to work and keeping everything on schedule really stresses me… and nothing goes smooth when i’m stressed.
    thanks to my dear girl (3.5 yo now) for whom i want to be a “good” parent, i’m on a journey to becoming a mindful person – i work hard to recognize my triggers and work on my patterns so that i can “heal” them and be a calmer mama, appreciate the moment just the way it is instead of wanting perfection and because of that missing the joyful part of parenting: being present for my child, appreciate who she really is
    i really love when you re-post the tips you wrote because something different always comes up and your same words take a different turn.
    i think that tips #1 & 4 are the chosen ones to practice right away

    Thank you again

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  19. courtneymjones

    It’s been quite the ride with my daughter and she has taught me patience and understanding. Before I became a mommy I was very short tempered and was not able to calm myself down very easily. When my daughter looks at me with those big teary eyes and I know that she can’t handle much more, instead of losing it and and getting angry I’ll give her a hug and let her cry it out on my shoulder. Ever since I started trying to see all of these situations from her perspective it makes parenting much easier and less stressful. I wrote a little bit about it in this article..


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