How to stop yo-yo parenting in its tracks

mother scolds her child

When kids play up it is so hard to focus your attention in so many directions, and hold it all together yourself so here are some tips on how to stop yo-yo parenting and parent harmoniously instead.

1.     Check your vitals first

Are you tired, hungry, overwhelmed, or are you just plain cranky? – I hate to admit it, but I know I can get as grumpy as my kids do when they are tired, hungry, or overwhelmed. Take a deep breath and hold it for a minute before you say anything! I am serious, being conscious of what you are doing will get you the best result in your parenting possible. Breathe in, Count 1, 2, 3, 4, breathe out and then do it again – do it three times.

Right, now you are ready to address your vitals

2.     STOP – Do something about your vitals

If you are hungry, put some food in your tummy or remind yourself that you haven’t slept are under too much pressure or are generally having a hard time,

STOP hitting the yo-yo button, and ask yourself, “If I was being a reasonable mummy or daddy right now, would I get super frustrated with this or is am I responding based on what is happening for me right now.”

If the answer is, yes, this is all about you, then STOP, take a deep breath again, and let your child know that you are feeling tired, frustrated, hungry etc. and ask them how you can help. By recognising your state of mind, you will be in a better place to address what is happening for them without yelling or responding in the way you usually do, the way that leaves you feeling plenty of guilt.

When you are overrun and overwhelmed, it is so easy to be caught up in the chaos of parenting. It is easy to automatically go into screaming match zone, so check on your own vitals first….

if the answer is no and your child’s behaviour is not acceptable, then address it in a kind gentle way. (See 1 Simple Step To Pick Your Battles With Your Kids for a good place to start with addressing behaviours in a gentle way)


3.     Create clear boundaries for your life

Create clear time zones in your life. Yes, I know, you are being pulled in so many directions. You have your boss (or you are your own boss), your partner, your child, your parents, (they do not call us the “sandwich generation*” for nothing), your friends and everyone wants a piece of you. The only way you are ever going to make any headway is if you prioritise what is important to you and set clear boundaries, because if you do not you are going to resent those that keep crossing them.

I recommend clear time zones when you work and when you don’t. When you are with your child and when you are not. This will allow you to be 100% present wherever you actually are. You will schedule that critical time each day when you are able to give your child your full attention. The focused, non-distracting type of attention you both want and need.

The good news is, that by setting these boundaries, you get time to reflect, enjoy, and return refreshed, energised, and inspired.

Remember to prioritise time with your partner too, parenting as a team is so much easier than doing it alone. Of course, if you are doing it with the support of family or ex-partners, set aside some time to figure out how to work together to still be the best team possible because your child needs this from both of you!

4.     Remember your child is probably struggling to ask for your help

Contemplate all that could be concerning your child in the moment – ask her the questions. Don’t be afraid of getting it wrong or giving her ideas, she will be very quick to correct you.

Consider if she is she scared of an upcoming event, what could be worrying her about the situation, is she wary of being on her own, doing something she has not done before, just ask her what is going on for her and offer to help.

She may deny that there is anything wrong at all. Irrespective of her response, offer her your presence when she is ready. Let her know that if she does not want to discuss it right now, that is perfectly okay, you are just down the hall, or in the kitchen etc. whenever she is ready to chat. Remind her that all she needs to do, is let you know she needs you and you will stand up and be there to help her.

By offering her a hand, she will see you as supportive, rather than only there when it suits you, another move away from yo-yo parenting to harmonious parenting.

5.     Stop yo-yo parenting: Offer a do over

Remember how it feels be caught up in something, knowing you are making a mistake but being unable to stop because you do not know how. If she is acting in a way that you do not approve of, take a deep breath and offer her a do over – even a hug because maybe she does not know how to stop once she gets started and by offering her a helping hand, she will see that you are on her side.


Becoming aware of what you do, recognising the incredible person that you see in front of you and connecting all the time, especially when it is most challenging, is Parenting on Purpose


What are you doing to stop yo-yo parenting and start parenting harmoniously every day?



*sandwich generation – a generation of people, typically in their thirties or forties, responsible both for bringing up their own children and for the care of their ageing parents

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