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2022 Feb

A Better Way

Even on a bad day, we can set a good example.

While standing in the checkout line at a local store recently, I saw a mom berating her daughter for misbehaving. They were in another line, and I could see the mother was not having a good day. The little girl, about 4 or 5 years old, was crying while her mom yelled at her. The little girl’s brother stood off to the side, looking helpless and embarrassed. It broke my heart.

I don’t know what the child did to make her mom so mad, but I wanted to go over to the mother and tell her to take it easy. Breathe. Count to 10. But I didn’t. The last I saw of them was the mom stomping out of the store with the little girl and her brother trailing behind. You could see their unhappiness.

Of course, we’ve all had bad days, and most of us have lost our temper in a public place at least once. It’s hard to be the perfect mom or dad when daily stresses mount up. But learning to deal with our stresses and problems before they erupt into a tirade is an important part of parenting.

Think about it: when we get angry and yell—whether it’s at our kids, our spouse, or the driver who cuts us off, we are sending the wrong message to our impressionable children. They learn from you that the way to deal with frustration is by lashing out at others. Isn’t there a better way?

For one thing, being angry only makes our blood pressure go up. Secondly, it doesn’t solve any problems. But we can learn to check our emotional reactions. Take a deep breath. If your child misbehaves in a public place, tell her in a calm voice that you will deal with it when you get home.

I’ll admit I’m not a perfect parent—who is? But I know that kids need love and kindness and respect just like adults do. If we behave admirably when things go wrong, our children learn to do the same. We all want to raise children who can cope with problems in a positive way, right? Let’s start by setting an example for them.

Peggy Sijswerda

Peggy Sijswerda is the editor and publisher of Tidewater Family Plus magazine. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Old Dominion University and is the author of Still Life with Sierra, a travel memoir. Peggy also freelances for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com

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