#2 - Perspective
"If will and personality were reflected in body size, two-year-olds would be six feet tall," says my friend Debby Greene, mom of 6-year-old twins and a 10-year-old daughter in Big Sky, Montana. During her kids' toddler years, Greene says, she found herself losing a sense of proportion all the time. "When I'd get sucked into some emotional tussle with my twins, their problems just seemed so enormous -- and the kids themselves literally seemed to take up a massive amount of space in the room." When this happened, it helped to look down and see how tiny her kids actually were, Greene says. "'Look how small they are,' I'd say to myself. And it reinforced that I was the bigger, wiser, more experienced one, not them."
Any kind of visual cue can help snap you back to a more appropriate point of view, says Maurice Elias, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. "Try putting something on your refrigerator that reminds you to take a step away from the situation -- like a stop sign," says Elias. "It'll help you regain the perspective you've lost."
For some moms, repeating a mantra (anything from "I am the adult" to "I'm doing the right thing") is effective. Perhaps most important, talking to your spouse and friends about your day-to-day struggles can keep you from blowing a tantrum out of proportion.
However you regain your perspective, it's a skill to foster, for your own sake and for your child's. It can help you control your anger, make better decisions, and more fully enjoy being a mom. It can also make it easier to focus on your priorities, reminding you of what the vital lessons are (no hitting or biting) and which ones will come with time (give her a couple of years and she won't sob when you forget it's her job to buckle her car seat).