How to Not Let Children Push Your Buttons

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It might seem on occasion that your child’s sole purpose in life is to push your buttons and see just how crazy she can make you. You’re not the first parent to feel this way and you certainly will not be the last. However, as irritating as your child might be from time to time, it is important that you keep your temper under control and not let her see that she has this effect on you. Often, kids behave a certain way because they want to get a reaction out of you. If you respond in a certain way, this could actually encourage more of the same kind of behavior.

  • Remind yourself that your child’s behavior is not something you should take personally, advises James Lehman, Master Social Worker writing for Empowering Parents. For example, if your child is angry and tells you that he hates you or that you’re the worst mom in the whole wide world, don’t take it personally. He’s mad probably because he is somehow not getting his way and he’s taking his frustration out on you. Reminding yourself that this is not really a personal attack can help you stay calm while he continues to push your buttons.

  • Breathe deeply and even excuse yourself from the room if you feel the need, advises Susan Newman, Ph.D., social psychologist and author. This can help you clear your mind, get your breathing under control and calm you down in the face of your child’s inappropriate behavior. You will less likely have a reactionary outburst if you do this.

  • Be prepared for button pushing. If you know that you are the parent of a child who takes great pleasure in pushing your buttons, have a plan in place at all times, suggests Lehman. For example, if you know that your child likes to see what he can get away with when you go out to dinner, decide ahead of time how you will deal with it. You can walk him to the car and make him sit there with you until he calms down or you can tell him that you are taking away one of his privileges, such as watching television for the rest of the night, when he gets home.

  • Exercise, advises Newman. When you exercise, your brain releases feel-good chemicals that help to relieve stress and anxiety and thus can put you in a much better mood. Sometimes, preventing a meltdown when your child is pushing your buttons is a lot easier to do if you are grounded and already feeling slightly less stressed.

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