Keeping Tempers Cool This Summer
By Sarah MacLaughlin, LSW

You pack up the kids for the beach because the sun is finally shining. You miraculously find parking that only necessitates a three-block walk, which you manage with all requisite gear in tow, and arrive to feel the warm sand underneath your toes. At that very moment, your baby’s diaper blows out and drips down your leg as your older child starts complaining about how their bathing suit is too scratchy and the sand is hot. Summer can be a time of great fun, but it can also bring out the whiny side of overheated kids and the diminished tolerance of grown-ups. Here are eight tips for preempting drama and managing yourself when patience wears thin: 

You may have noticed that some of these suggestions are aimed at helping children regulate their emotions, but that many are aimed at adult self-regulation. Because of the way the brain develops, self-regulation skills must be learned through co-regulation with a grown-up. That means that if we want our kids to be able to stay regulated when they are upset and angry, we have to go first and be a good model. We do this not only when we succeed at keeping our tempers in check, but also when we lose our cool and then apologize, make amends, repair the relationship, and speak kindly to ourselves about our mistakes. 


Sarah MacLaughlin is a writer, social worker, and child development nerd. She helps parents (and others who interact with children) show up authentically and model great communication skills and emotional intelligence. Sarah is author of the award-winning, bestselling book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, and is currently writing her second book, Raising Humans With Heart: Not a How-To Manual. She lives in Windham with her husband and tweenaged son. Learn more about her work at