Family quarrels at home, often sparked by something small – and certainly more often during the lockdown – can be stopped with just a few simple techniques, says a BBC doctor.
dr. Rangan Chatterjee, who has 300,000 followers on Instagram and regularly interviews experts in areas like mental health, tackling online abuse and living a healthier lifestyle, says tricks like writing a journal at the end of each day and always apologizing to kids like you fly off the handle with them can bring you a more harmonious family life.
The 44-year-old TV and radio doctor, who just released a five-minute wellness podcast, Built To Thrive, told FEMAIL not to let stress control you, learn how to control your breathing to calm yourself, and learn techniques used to really make sure your partner listens to you, all this can prevent fights.
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TV and radio doctor Dr. Rangan Chatterjee says there are steps you can take to keep your kids from flying off the handle after a stressful day
dr. Rangan, who has an 11-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter with his wife Vidhaata, told FEMAIL: ‘Life just seems a lot more stressful after Covid, we had to keep ourselves to ourselves without the typical outlets we’ve had to connect with. with others, to relieve our stress.
“In the squeezed bubble of lockdown – with parents trying to work from home and home school children, many of us found out about our programming. A big part of the way we raise is how we were raised.”
Here, he offers his top tips for managing stress so it doesn’t manifest itself in a family quarrel…
ALWAYS SAY SORRY TO YOUR CHILDREN
‘We are imperfect humans, we are fundamentally flawed. Role modeling for our children is very important; tell them “I didn’t have a lunch break today, I’ve been really busy and my stress has nothing to do with you and it wasn’t very nice for you to hear that”.
We know it really makes a difference. otherwise the kids think it’s them, that they’ve done something wrong, especially younger kids. For them, their parent is everything and they will often internalize the stress of arguments, thinking ‘I did something wrong to make Mom or Dad do that’.
When they are adults, with their own children, they will play out the same cycle. Being honest and apologizing really brings you closer to your kids and helps you “manage” your stress – you don’t have to hang up this image of perfection.
KNOW SMALL STRESS THERE ARE BIG TRIGERS
Humans are fundamentally flawed, says Dr Rangan, and if you try to be the perfect parent, you’ll fall — it’s better to say when you’ve flown off the handle and apologize to kids
There is “big picture” stress, including trauma, bereavement, and divorce – those are what we would call “macro stress” doses.
‘Microstress’ doses are little bits of stress we experience every day that don’t do much on their own – we can handle them just fine.
When we’re not aware of them, they add up one after the other – it could be a negative comment on Instagram, a negative news story that scares the world, schoolwork, an elderly parent having to change a light bulb – all. these things bring you closer and closer to your stress threshold.
Yes, parenting has to do with our programming, but snapping at our kids is often because we’ve had a really rough day, so be nicer to yourself and think about that. Even if you can reduce your micro-stress by just 10 percent, you’ll have more headroom for your kids.
WRITE A MAGAZINE
For younger children, their parent is everything and they will often internalize the stress of arguments and think, ‘I did something wrong to make Mom or Dad do that…’
“You don’t have to buy an expensive journal or have a big writing ritual, but take two or three minutes every morning, or when you get home from work, and write down how the day went.
For example, “The kids wouldn’t eat their dinner and I snapped at them. I tried not to, but couldn’t contain myself.” A few moments of self-reflection can help.
I recommend that patients ask two questions every night: “What went well and what can I do differently tomorrow?”
It’s so effective, it creates self-reflection, that creates awareness – without that we can never change anything.’
BREATH TO CALM
“One of my favorite techniques is the 3-4-5 breath, where you inhale for three seconds, hold for four seconds, and exhale for five seconds.
Any time your “out” breath is longer than your “in” breath, you have to turn off the “stress” side of your nervous system – the sympathetic – and help stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, the relaxation part.
If you breathe 3-4-5 minutes before a difficult conversation, you become much calmer and more reflective.’
DO NOT PLAY THE GAME WITH YOUR PARTNER
“Communication is everything in relationships and in every scenario there are three realities – and you only know two. You know what your intention is (what you are going to say), and you know what a mutual observer might see happening…
When you make a claim/accusation about your intent, you go ‘over the net’ and once that happens, relationships with partners, children and colleagues can develop.
All about timing: How you approach a conversation about whether parental responsibilities are shared fairly is crucial, TV document says
For example, one partner might say to the other ‘you are not doing chores around the house’. What’s much better in a heated moment, when you’re feeling triggered and that conversation is emotionally charged and doomed to trouble, is to wait.
You just put your partner on the defensive. Instead, wait until the kids are in bed and sit down and talk if neither of you are distracted.
When you speak, stay ‘on your side of the net’; let your partner know how you feel. When you say ‘I feel’, you are not saying ‘You make me feel’ – you are actually speaking and that language will change everything. A partner is much more willing to get involved. It also works for the children.’
CONSCIOUSNESS IS EVERYTHING
Life is hard and you will never be the only one who finds it hard. With consciousness you can make a choice and say do I want to continue with that or do I want to try to change it? With work pressures, it’s not always easy to be as present or as calm as you’d like with your kids, but awareness is a great way to manage stress.
Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s five-minute wellness podcast, Built To Thrive, is available exclusively on Amazon Music