The hairiest moments with our kids can often be diffused more easily than we think! Below are 10 Ways to Defuse a Tense Situation with your Kids.
1. Cluck like a chicken. Oink like a pig. Baaa like a sheep. Whatever makes you sound the most foolish and has big movements to accompany it- like flapping your wings. This works with kids, but it can also work with your spouse.
2. Ignore the crazy erupting around you (including the crying toddler if she does not want to be held) walk to the nearest source of music and press play. Start dancing and invite your children to join you. It is really tough to stay mad while Milli Vanilli is playing in the background. And who doesn’t love to see mom dance?
3. Turn into Robots. This is a HUGE hit in our house. “O-wen. Could. You. Please. Oil. My. Elbow.” Or anything you can think of. Just start talking and moving like a robot. Even if all it gets you is a look of total confusion- the mood has shifted.
4. Go outside. Just open the door, carry whomever will let you and go for a walk. Play on the swingset. Sit on the front stoop. A change of perspective often helps.
5. Tickle the bananas out of ‘em. Work up to it. Look at them across the room until you get their attention and put a really pleasant, but sneaky look on your face. Slowly and dramatically start walking toward them. As you get closer, lift your hands and start moving your fingers in a slow tickling gesture. You will be able to read their reaction by this point. If they start to giggle, go in for the tickle. Monitor how much tickling they are up for. Maybe it is a quick tickle that ends in a huge bear hug. Maybe it is an all out tickle fest. Maybe by the time you reach them you can see that they are still not sure and you can slow down to approach them with a hug.
6. Just cuddle. Turn the rice off – so what if it’s ruined- and sit down on the couch. Look at your little kiddo and how upset they are. With lots of love in your voice, tell them that you really want to snuggle and hug them. Wrap your arms around them, nuzzle them, stroke their back and hair. Tell them that you can see they are having a hard time, or that it has been a hard afternoon for everyone. Tell them your favorite thing about them and let them know that you love them.
7. Get out the ice cream. Lots of your jaw just dropped. ”That’s no solution” you’re thinking. Really though- if things keep going the way they are there will be a whole lot of hurt exchanged between you and your children. Is a little ice cream really worse than that?
8. Mentally prepare and give yourself a pep talk. It takes a lot of effort to override feelings of being overwhelmed, angry and frustrated. Remember that your desire is to connect with your children, not to make them afraid of you. It may be forced at first, but how long can it take before your own mood has shifted when acting like a robot?
9. Keep your head. Somehow. All of these solutions are not for every situation. Assess where your children are and which one might work. Try them out and be flexible. If you are having a dance party and the chaos is making things worse, abandon it and try something else.
10. Connect with them. The previous 9 items are there only to get you to this one. So that you can calm down the situation and remind everyone that you love each other and care about how they are feeling. Once the crying and tension are gone, there may be an opportunity to validate feelings and chat about things. At least there will be a moment to snuggle and tell your children how much you love them. Really, that is what this list is all about.
How do you diffuse a tense situation?