The Ten Foot Rule

Feeling like a bad parent because you are just one second from losing your cool with your child?

  • Are you clenching your fists?
  • Clenching your jaw?
  • Feeling knots in your stomach?
  • Heart racing?
  • Raising your voice?
  • Rubbing your head because it is about to burst?

Step #1: Remember the 10-Foot Rule!
Make sure that your child is in a safe place and then keep 10 feet away from them until you have had time to calm down.

Step #2: Coach yourself into calmness:
Parenting research says that parents not only need to coach their kids €“ they need to coach themselves!!!! Here are some examples of what parents can say to themselves to calm down:

  • “This is normal. Every parent has moments when they have totally run out of patience with their child.”
  • “I am starting to lose it and I need to take a break.”
  • “Smart parents know when to stay 10 feet away from their kids and calm down!”
  • “I don’t want to do anything that would hurt my child €“ so I am going to move 10 feet away.”

Step #3: Practice, Practice, Practice:
You can read every parenting tip in the world, but if you don’t USE THE TIPS you won’t improve your parenting.

Practice the 10-Foot Rule:
Practice the 10-foot rule at least once a day even if you aren’t that upset, so that when you do get upset you will know exactly what to do.

Put up a 10-Foot Rule Sign:
Put a sign on your fridge or your mirror or on your calendar that says, “Don’t forget the 10-foot rule!”

Teach a Friend:
One of the best ways to learn is by teaching! Tell another parent about the 10-foot rule and then agree to work on it together for one week.

Make a deal with yourself that if you practice the 10-foot rule for week you can go to Tully’s and get coffee or buy flowers for yourself or just give yourself a big gold star in your mind! Rewards are wonderful!!!!

© Parent Trust for Washington Children