As a busy and often exhausted mom of three children currently expecting a fourth, I know all too well how easy it is to lose your patience and say or do something you regret, like yell, or overreact to kids just being kids. That's why I love a positive parenting hack mom Shauna Harvey shared on her Facebook page that keeps her accountable for her actions, and encourages her to practice patience and kindness toward her challenging son.
Harvey explains her idea in a post that has since gone viral. "I wore 5 rubber bands on my wrist from the time I got up, to the time I tucked [my 4-year-old son] in just now. The 5 rubber bands represent every time you lose your cool or say something unkind to your child."
"Every time that happens, you move one band to the other wrist," Harvey goes on to explain. "To 'gain the band back', you must do 5 kind/positive things with your child (dance party, singing a song together, reading together, etc)."
She says the hair band hack came from reading that, according to research, for every bad reaction, it takes five positive reactions to regain a positive relationship.
"I'm going to be using this method until it becomes a habit and basically turns into an auto pilot ritual," Harvey says, adding, "I've found myself so incredibly stressed out, I beat my head against the wall daily because I don't understand why my 4 year old insists on being disrespectful and a non listener. I was to the point of crying at least every other day."
But after putting the hair band hack into practice, Harvey writes in her post she finished the day with all five on the original wrist. "I'm very proud of myself for exercising patience with him. I know it's only day 1 but I'm hopeful this will help our communication skills and our relationship."
Harvey got the idea for the hair band hack from a post by The (Reformed) Idealist Mom, a Texas-based mom-of-three named Kelly. In the post, titled "The Hair Tie Trick That Will Make You Go from Angry Mom to Happy Mom," Kelly details how she came up with the idea and also offers a free downloadable "cheat sheet" for moms who want to try the technique with their kids. "The hair tie hack is still working its magic for me," Kelly told Parents.com. "More than 500,000 parents have read that post so far, so every day I hear more and more stories from other parents about how the hair ties have helped them get a handle on their temper and tone."
As for her thoughts on why the post has gone viral, she says: "As parents, we crave a healthy, connected relationship with our little ones. But in the chaos of modern parenting life, we can get frustrated easily and that puts a strain on our relationship with our kids. The hair ties are a simple, visible reminder to catch ourselves before we get off track. And because we're human, it's possible to "earn" the hair ties back to repair the relationship after we slip up."
She ultimately encourages other parents to try the idea if they find themselves feeling too angry. Raises hand. I totally feel like an "angry mom" lately. My approach to counteract my shorter temper (thanks, pregnancy hormones!) is to stop, take a deep breath, and try to gain some perspective. I'll admit that doesn't always work, though, so perhaps it's time to implement the hair band method!
*Editor's Note: This post was updated on 5/26/2017 to include information about The (Reformed) Idealist Mom's original blog post.