As a dad of three, when I have conversations with anyone about “life”, I usually find myself sharing my experiences by saying one of two things: “Don’t ever have kids” or “Kids are amazing and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.” And most days, this is exactly how I feel. I fluctuate between absolutely loving my kids and wanting to do anything and everything for them, to having them misbehave, hearing them whine and thusly wanting to run and hide in a box where no one can find me. Ever.

As a new parent, you’re surely loving each and every moment you spend with your newborn. You’re cherishing how you made such an amazing little person and marveling at their each and every move. You’re telling yourself what a great parent you are, what an amazing kid they are, and not sweating a thing. This parenting thing seems so easy, right? 

As they get older, the tides will turn. You’ll still find yourself in awe all of their milestones, but also be asking yourself how to deal with them when they start to get out of control. It can be very overwhelming when your little ones act out. Not just at home, but also when you’re out of the house — at a restaurant, school, playground or even just a family party. How do you deal with them without totally losing control yourself? 

How you ask? You just deal with it. You’re an adult, your kids are, well, kids! No matter how angry you get, your kids will forgive you. 

Here are some tips to get you through the breakdowns:

Take a deep breath: This is always the most important rule. Always remember to just breath. The only thing worse than little Judy or Jimmy going crazy out of control is mommy or daddy also going out of control — that only makes things worse. So take a breath, remember that you’re the adult and you’re the one in charge, then go from there.

Go with your gut: There are no rules set in stone when it comes to disciplining your child, whether at home or in public. If you think a quick warning will curb the behavior, then go that route. If your child needs a time-out, by all means, give them one (there’s no shame in giving your child a time-out even in a public place). If they’re totally off the rails and the only option is get up and go — then do it. Which leads us to the next reminder …

We’ve all been there, and no one is judging you: As parents — and as cliche as it sounds — we’ve all been there. Our kids aren’t perfect just like your kids aren’t perfect. We’ve all had to yank our kids from a playdate or put them in time-out in the middle of the mall, you’re not alone. No one is judging you, and some might even offer to help if you’re really in a pickle, so just hang in there. You’re doing the right thing.

It will pass: This too — like all those other little incidents — will pass. Yes, it may seem like the worst thing in the world at the worst possible time, but just remember that soon it will pass and little Judy or Johnny will be back to their adorable, smiling self again — and so will you.

Just the other day my daughter was so out of control that I took her out of dinner for a time-out, and subsequently sent her to bed over an hour earlier that normal (she gets up at 5 am as it is, so I’m not sure who exactly this punishes more). She had acted out nearly every step of the way from the time I got home and it took all I had to not totally lose control. As she was laying in bed, she asked if I was mad. I told her I was, but that was okay and that I still loved her very much. As she drifted off I was still trying to bring myself back down to normal. Wouldn’t you know it, at 5:30 the next morning she ran into our room, jumped on the bed and the first thing she said was, “Daddy, I’m sorry for not being a good listener.”

This is a 100% true story and explicitly shows that kids are kids and are very forgiving. You, as a parent, should also be forgiving. There will be good times and bad times, ups and downs, but just remember to take a few deep breaths and that you’re in this for the long haul, so you can’t let the little things get to you. The more you do, the worse off you’ll be — just sit back, relax, and enjoy your kids!

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