No matter what we do to try to prevent it, there will be times when we are angry in front of our kids. We want to have some concrete strategies for how we can manage that anger so we don’t become a scary out-of-control parent. (Believe me, I don’t say that judgmentally – I’ve had my “scary mommy” moments – like one time when I was yelling at my son for spilling a drink (and really because I was stressed out by things that had nothing to do with him or the drink) and he was saying to me “You’re a bad, bad mommy.” Yes, I’ve been there…)
Come up with strategies that work for you. Here are some ideas.
- Take a deep breath and let it out slowly.
- Concentrate on counting to ten. Try not to say anything or do anything to your child before you reach 10.
- Put your hands in your pockets. This helps you resist the urge to hit or physically threaten.
- Or, shake the tension out of your hands.
- Remind yourself that this isn’t an emergency or a crisis – you have time to calm yourself down. (I know many of my meltdowns happen when we’re running late to get somewhere, and in that moment I feel like I have no time at all to deal with something. But honestly, it’s better to spend 30 seconds calming down and then moving forward than spend several minutes melting down and dealing with the repercussions of that!)
- Ask for a break / give yourself a timeout to calm down. Go to another room if possible.
- Remember that you care for the person you are angry about, even if it’s hard to feel that in the moment.
- Try to assess what’s really happening? Are you angry about the child? The situation? Something that is someone else’s fault? Or something that’s your responsibility?
- Use I statements: “I am stressed because we’re running late. I need us to make a plan for how to find your shoes in the morning.” not “you always make us late. It’s your fault you can’t find your shoes.”
- What do you want your child to learn from how you respond to this?
- Things NOT to do: blame, shame, preach, moralize, ridicule, label, criticize the other person, bring up all their past transgressions, or use this one incident as a reason to say “you’ll always be ____” or “you’ll never be ______.”