Parents often ask: “Is it OK to be angry in front of my kids?” “Is it OK to be angry at my kids, or does that make me a bad parent?” “What if my partner and I get in a fight when the kids are in the room?” The reality is that there will be times you’re angry in your child’s presence, there will be times you’re angry at your child, and there will be times you fight with a family member when your child is around. Anger is a very basic human emotion, and we all feel it sometimes. (Click here for a post on your child’s anger and how to respond.)
When teaching your child emotional intelligence, I recommend that you say to them clearly that “Your emotions are always OK. Sometimes your behavior is not OK, so I will set limits on that when I need to. But I still love you even when you’re having big emotions and even when your behavior is bad.” We can set the same standards for ourselves as parents – all emotions are OK, but we want to handle them as maturely as we can in the moment, and repair things later when we don’t handle them well. Rather than trying to hold yourself up to an impossible standard of never getting angry, instead, accept that it will happen and make a plan for how you will manage the situation.
If our children see us get angry and then calm ourselves down, they learn many things: it’s normal to get angry, being angry doesn’t make you a bad person, being angry doesn’t have to mean losing control, and it is possible to calm yourself down from a big emotional meltdown.
This week, I’ll be doing a full series on parental anger. Tune in for
- ideas on how to prevent (or reduce) our anger blow-outs
- how to manage your anger when you start to lose it
- ideas for processing and defusing your anger when you’re not in the heat of the moment
- what to do when you’re angry at your child
- what to do when you’re fighting with your partner in front of your child
- resolution: healing and moving on after a meltdown
(If you’re a parent educator, who would like a one page printable handout on this topic, click here: Parental Anger.)