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Make a silly (and unrelated) announcement. (“For the rest of the day, everyone must hop on one foot when moving about the house!”)
Make funny faces. Tell your child that no matter what, they must not laugh.
Turn on a videocamera. Turn the opportunity into one of love and connection that you can be proud of later.
Play an instrument.
Take the family to a park with sidewalk chalk: write/draw inspirational messages/pictures.
Learn how to say a few words in another language (ASL, Spanish, etc.).
Do something nice for someone else. (Involve your child if he wants to help.)
Write your feelings down on paper.
Meditate or pray.
Hug your child’s teddy bear or doll and talk about how much you love your child (while your child is watching, if you’d like).
Look into a mirror and realize what your child is seeing when you are angry.
Remember your child is young, and innocent, and loves you, and needs to trust you.
Take a minute to calm down and breastfeed your child. (It’s hard to be angry at a child who is nursing, plus the act of breastfeeding releases hormones that will help calm both of you down.)
The bottom line is to not scream at or hit your child. It’s ok to step away from the situation or to defuse a fight by using laughter or love instead of instantly turning to discipline or punishment. If you are trying to “teach” your child something, she will not learn when you are approaching her with anger – whether it is in your voice or in your hand. All she will feel is fear.
Talk about it when both you and your child are calm. Chances are, you will both feel better about the outcome.