Even the most mild-mannered parent can get angry at their children. A lot of this anger comes from the frustration that results when parents do not know how to manage a child’s behavior. If left unresolved, this frustration can lead to distress and outbursts. So how do you manage these frustrations before you erupt?
Deal with Anger Before It Strikes
If you notice that your anger is building up, first try counting to 10 and taking some deep breaths. If that doesn’t work, try going for a short walk to blow off some steam. If your kids are younger, call a neighbor, relative or friend to stay with them while you go out.
Your child may wonder what is going on — explain to him or her that you are starting to get angry. Describe the exact situation that’s making you mad: “You are watching TV instead of folding the clothes like I asked.” Then explain what you want done about it, and put a time limit on it. “I need you to turn off the TV and finish the laundry in 15 minutes so we can eat dinner.” Use a timer if you need to.
Get Your Balance Back
When your anger gets the best of you, do something to bring yourself back to a calm state—listen to music, drink some tea, take a nap or a shower, go for a walk, or call a friend. After, spend some time with your child in a mutually enjoyable activity.
Techniques for Handling Common Problems
Here are a few tried and true techniques for handling difficult, but common, behavioral issues:
- Offer A Choice
Say, for example, your child and his friend are fighting over a toy. Instead of saying “Stop that!” give your child and his friend a choice to stop fighting over the toy or the friend must leave and come back another time.
- Express Your Feelings
When your child is making you angry, express your feelings in a straightforward, non-confrontational way. Simply say “I’m very tired and it is making me cranky. When you scream loudly, it makes me even crankier. Now, have a snack while I go change clothes.”
- Institute Chores
Your children are fighting over which movie to watch—tempers are flaring and the shouts are getting louder. Give each child a chore in a separate room, letting them know that you will discuss the movie choice with them once the chores are done and they are calm enough to discuss it.
- Assert Your Values
Your child is playing a video game instead of doing her homework. Let her know that homework is more important than a game and that she cannot play the game until the homework is done to your satisfaction.
- Cope With Your Child’s Feelings
Just like adults, children have powerful feelings of anger and jealousy, but you can help your children learn acceptable ways to express these feelings by explaining what a more appropriate approach might be. You could say, “When you’re mad at me, this is how I’d like you to tell me: ‘Not letting me have my candy bar now made me so angry because I’m hungry.’ Then I know why you are angry and it will help me work it out with you.”
- Match Words To Feelings
Match your expressions of anger to the way you really feel. If you are only mildly annoyed say, “This is irritating me.” If you are very angry, say instead, “This has made me very angry.” At all costs, avoid shouting; instead express your anger in a firm voice.
Also remember to never humiliate or degrade your child. Aim your disapproval at your child’s behavior, not at the child himself. Instead of saying, “You’re a bad kid,” you should say, “I don’t like what you’re doing right now.”
Know When To Get Help
If you are unleashing feelings of anger on your children because you feel that they have taken away some of your freedom, are depleting your savings and are making you tired, feel that your children have taken away your freedom, are depleting your finances and are draining your energy, then it’s time to seek professional assistance to manage your own stresses and frustrations.
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