Stay hopeful and calm. Look after yourself as best you can. Believe in yourself and stay in control.
Try to find someone you know and trust, like a teacher, relative or older friend to talk about what you are going through.
Here are some specific suggestions you can try out to discover what works for you.
- Practise breathing slowly and deeply.
- Try mindfulness, a form of meditation.
- Develop ways to relax.
- Think positively about yourself.
- Work out in advance some calm responses to your parent’s regular criticisms.
- Think through what to do when your parent starts criticising you.
Understand your situation.
Learning to accept your parent's behaviour might help you cope. Do this by thinking through some key experiences you have had with your parent to create your own personal story. Then write them down and include:
- How the nastiness makes you feel.
- Patterns in your parent's horrid behaviour.
- How you usually respond.
- Why you are verbally attacked.
- How to manage the situation better.
When your parent is being horrid
Arguing back is very likely to make things worse.
Stay calm by:
- breathing slowly and deeply.
- silently counting backwards from a hundred.
- not wringing your hands and revealing how tense you are.
- replying to what your parent says with a soft, calm but firm voice.
- visualising something that gives you pleasure.
- distancing yourself by not looking your parent in the eye.
- diverting attention. Offer your parent a cup of tea and try to change the subject.
- deciding to leave the room even just to go to the toilet.
Keep a prepared list of ways to calm down so you can quickly choose one.
This could be:
- taking exercise.
- phoning a friend.
- reading a book.
- listening to calming music.
- watching TV/YouTube.
- thumping a pillow in your room.
- writing in your journal/diary/notebook.
- taking a bath or long shower.
- giving yourself a treat.
Some time later
Think through the nasty episode again.
Analyse it and try to prepare yourself for the inevitable next time by asking yourself:
- did any of your techniques work? If so, remember them for next time.
- to rate your behaviour and how you handled the situation.
- what else could you try?
How to think differently
Move from negative to positive thinking.
If you think 'It’s all my fault,' try saying instead 'It’s really not my fault.'
I feel so guilty ... I have done nothing wrong.
I’m a failure ... I will succeed.
This feels so hopeless ... it will get better.
I feel so angry ... I know ways to calm myself down.
I feel so unloved ... I feel I am a loveable person.
I feel so criticised … I might not be perfect but I do my best.
I feel so frightened ... I will overcome my fear.
After a confrontation I always feel bad ... I’m OK, I will survive.
I must be a bad person ... actually I’m quite a good person.
He/She must change ... I can learn to react differently.
They can’t get away with this ... I will learn to accept this is how he/she is.
Keep telling yourself these positive thoughts and before too long you will believe them.
How to look after yourself
- Keep telling yourself your painful feelings will pass.
- Believe in a future when life will be better.
- Remember this horrid situation is not your fault.
- Your goal is to manage the situation as best you can.
- Think through any good things about your relationship with your mother or father.
- Be realistic. No parent is all good or all bad.
- Think about what you can learn from the difficult relationship with your parent.
Choosing your own set of values is not easy but it is rewarding because you are building the person you want to be. Once you find them, they will help you to be strong.
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- Take deep slow breaths. This can help you relax.
- Go to your bedroom and zone out.
- Eat sensibly.
- Take regular exercise.
- Try to get a good night’s sleep. Things always seem worse if you are tired.
- Write a list of what you do well and enjoy.
Write a list of friends and other people who love and care about you.