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Managing emotions as a single parent

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PHOTO CREDIT: canopy children’s solution

Ever had your child share a tale with you as soon as he comes back from school on how his classmates’ dad had taken him on a shopping spree or on a trip to a favourite destination? Maybe he had helped him with a particular task he has struggle with, and your child ends the conversation with demanding to meet his father at least once or more often.

Parenting, which ideally is the responsibility of both father and mother doesn’t happen on a platter, let alone single parenting, which is hectic, demanding and zaps emotions. While single parenting happen due to divorce, widowhood or by choice, it doesn’t take away the fact that it is stressful and so requires more commitment to achieve.

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Having a young child as a single parent comes with its intense emotional experience. There is the pure pleasure of cuddling, playing, laughing, exploring, and delighting in your baby’s daily growth and discoveries. Not leaving out the challenges accompanied with moments of stress, anger, frustration and resentment, which comes from not knowing how exactly to calm your crying baby; meet the irrational demands of your toddler or deal with tantrums or aggressiveness of your older child. These experiences take a toll on parents let alone a single parent.

It is important to tune in to and manage these feelings, because it is how you react in these moments that make the difference in your child’s development. Your response impacts his ability to learn good coping skills and guides his future behaviour. Reacting with anger and frustration when your child presents a rather unpleasant scenario is likely to further distress the child rather than help him calm and cope.

Learning to manage your own reactions is one of most important ways you can reduce your own and your child’s distress. It also teaches children how to manage their own emotions; a skill that helps them do better in school and in building friendships and other relationships as they grow.

Managing strong, negative emotions is much easier said than done, while the effort is worth it, the reward is huge for you and your child.

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Here are some helpful tips to managing your emotions while raising your child as a single parent:
Ensure you tune into your feelings and own it. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Make a conscious effort to defend your decisions and never let your feelings affect how best you should respond to a situation.

Your reaction to your child’s actions or behavior should be determined by your assessment. Hence if you see his behaviour in the context of normal development, your approach will definitely be of empathy and you are more likely to react and respond calmly and effectively.

A single mum whose child have just behaved badly and thrown a tantrum is likely to use the words ‘After all I have sacrificed for you, you are so ungrateful’, instead of allowing your emotions take charge of you, it is best to take a deep breath at such times and think through how you would like to respond to such situations, which should usually come in a calm manner or a conversation.

The best way to eliminate behaviours you feel will not serve your child well in the real world is to ignore them.
Managing your own emotions helps you feel more in control and frees you to respond to even the most challenging behaviors calmly and effectively.

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