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Controlling Emotions
tips for reducing parenting stress


There is no doubt, parenting can be very stressful and controlling emotions quite a challenge. Are you wondering how to calm down when life gets tough again?  Looking for ways to cope with sudden mood swings and other ways to deal with stress? Then you've found the right page.

Contents of this page:

Learn to Recognize Your Emotions Early
Take Good Care of Yourself to control the intensity of your emotions
Stress Relief & Food
Parenting Stress and Sleep
Exercise Reduces Stress
Build Yourself a Safety Net
Cherish Positive Self Talk



To be able to control your emotions efficiently your need to be aware that emotions have an important function. They can warn you of danger and they show you what’s important to you. They’re your connection to your subconscious mind. Trusting your gut-feeling or instinct can help you to stay true to yourself.

On the other hand, when emotions get to strong or a certain emotion lasts for too long this can lead to trouble. Too much anger can lead to rage; too much sadness and fear can lead to depression and anxiety. Even too much joy isn’t good as being constantly joyful, happy and looking for fun is quite exhausting if it isn’t supported by gentle phases of quietness as well.

The most worrying part for parents would be that if you’re exhausted it becomes harder to counterbalance strong emotions. And which parent wouldn’t be exhausted at least once in a while?


Learn to Recognize Your Emotions Early
Tips for Controlling Emotions

When you feel yourself getting stressed out, angry, tense or whatever it is, you want to welcome that emotion. Now, this doesn’t mean that you would welcome your usual reaction but it is important to accept the fact, that you have that emotion at the time.

Accepting the emotion lets you see behind that emotion and find lasing solutions. Denying or suppressing a feeling doesn’t make it go away. You just can’t see it for a while but it will surface only stronger when times get tougher.

You could compare it to driving a car towards a wall. There is no use to just close your eyes and wish the wall wasn’t there. Most certainly you’d want to keep your eyes open and stir the car around the obstacle.

So for controlling your emotions you’d want to:

  • Allow youself to feel your emotions;
  • Give it a name (Frustration, Anger, Pride, ...);
  • Find out why you have this emotion (what did you hear, say or think just before?);
  • Maybe you want to write that down in your diary as a reference for future problems;
  • Do something about the underlying problem.

Following I've listed a few ways to deal with stress. A few of them might also help when you almost "hit the wall" already. All of them can help you to prevent youself from getting that stressed out.

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Take Good Care of Yourself
ways of controlling the intensity of your emotions

You probably realized already that after a break or a relaxing holiday you could deal with all sorts of things whereas when you’re stressed controlling your emotions is so much harder. As a parent it’s probably been a while that you had a truly relaxing holiday to recharge your batteries. But you can also incorporate activities that help you to stay relaxed into your daily or weekly routine.

Stress Relief & Food

Many people crave sugary things or coffee when stress builds up. And while chocolate, biscuits, cola and co give you plenty of energy for the next few minutes, this energy doesn’t last long. In fact, only a little later your body will cry for even more sugar or coffeine. This can send you on an emotional rollercoaster. 

If you want to balance your energy and mood better, avoid food that has lots of sugar or consists mainly of white flour. Choose wholemeal bread, muesli or porridge instead of cornflakes or other highly processed cereals for breakfast. This would also be the most important meal of the day. Also choose water or 100% fruit juices that you water down yourself instead of soft drinks or energy drinks.

There are also a couple of food additives that can make restless or irritate. Especially if you or your kids are very sensitive or hyperactive you’d want to check the foods you eat and avoid quesitonable additives.

Parenting Stress and Sleep - Recharge your Batteries

Stress and sleep influence each other very much. Being stressed makes it harder to fall asleep and a lack of sleep makes the day ahead so much more stressful. 

There are a few things that help to fall asleep easier:

  • If thoughts are keeping you awake you can try to write down what bothers you so you can take your mind off it afterwards.
  • Going to bed I spend a few minutes thinking of all the good things in my life and thanking for them. This gratitude helps me to relax and fall asleep.
  • Meditation, Yoga and other types of exercise done in the afternoon also reduce stress and help sleeping.

Especially when your kids are very little it’s often hard to get enough rest. Some people like to put their babies into their own rooms as soon as possible. We found co-sleeping great.

We had a cot pushed against our bed and made sure that it couldn’t move. This way I didn’t need to get up to breastfeed and could fall back asleep more easily. Bedding my little one on a towel in her cot I could easily pull her towards me and back into her cot.

In the end you need to go with what works for you. Any type of pressure to do it one certain way only makes matters worse. What you should do though is make sure that what you do is done safely. And that’s certainly the easier the more of the much needed rest you get.

Exercise Reduces Stress

Being physically active is a great way to relieve all that tension that builds up during a stressful day. It doesn’t really matter what kind of sport you do as long as you get to it regularly. Walking, jogging, swimming, riding the bike, or just playing tennis or another ball game with friends, doing yoga or pilates. Just do some sort of exercise at least 2-3 times a week.

You could walk to school or a playground with your kids – or just park the car a little further away, or maybe take the bike. Go for a little run in the morning, before you partner goes to work. Take the stairs whenever you can instead of the lift or escalators. Join in when your kids throw a few balls or play hopscotch. Find other mums to take turns watching the kids to find the time to get some exercise. Or you could go for a brisk walk while doing your daily calls to friends and family far away.

It surely takes a bit of determination to make the space for regular exercise in your life – but it’s well worth it.

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Build Yourself a Safety Net
Tips for Controlling Emotions

Having family and friends close by to lend a hand or an ear is a invaluable resource. Unfortunately nowadays relocating for a job is so common that even if you decide to stay put, your friends might move away. When you need to move yourself the need to build a strong safety net is even more urgent.

If you had to move you probably know how invaluable the help of others is when it comes to babysitting or finding a good doctor or school, not to talk about the times when you’d really need a big hug.

Playgroups for example are a great place to find likeminded people. And you kids can have fun and make friends themselves too. Or you can arrange play dates with colleagues and their kids.

Another very important part of my safety net are some savings for a rainy day. We keep them on a separate account. If we need to dig into that, we make sure to put the money back on as soon as possible. Credit cards are tempting and so is lay-by. In the end, though, one is under the pressure to pay back this money or pay huge interest rates or lose the money payed in already. All of that is not much fun to do nor think about.

Cherish Positive Self–talk
Tips for Controlling Emotions

Most people hold little conversations with themselves throughout the day. Those little things like: Oh, I’m late again!”, “I hate it when this happens”, “Well done!” or “Yay, one more step ahead”.

What are your little internal conversations like? Do they drag you down or do they cheer you up? Many people aren’t actually aware of all those thoughts. They might only see the results in form of mishaps and the like.

Controlling emotions begins with controlling your internal conversations. You can guide them with the help of positive affirmations and/or using a diary to analyze them. What do you think your friends or family members think? Does this put unnecessary preassure on you? Can you avoid that?

Positive self talk is supported by:

  • a feeling of friendliness towards yourself (be your best friend) &
  • realistic expectations
  • sometimes a little shift of perspective does the trick.
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