Defusing Your Anger

journalThis is part of a week-long series on Parental Anger. So far, we’ve talked about the fact that anger is normal and doesn’t make you a bad parent, ways to prevent parental meltdowns, and ways to calm yourself in the moment. Today we’ll talk about how to process those emotions when you’re not upset.

  • After you calm down – some time in the day or two after a meltdown, spend some time reflecting on the situation.
    • What about the situation made you angry? (Often there’s some other real issue hiding under the issue of the moment. The precise situation that set you off might have just been a symptom of a bigger problem.)
    • What feelings are underneath the anger? Some therapists say that anger is a secondary emotion and is usually rooted in one of two primary emotions – fear or sadness / grief. So, if something is making you angry, you may ask yourself: “what am I afraid of?” or “what am I grieving for?”
    • What do you want to change? What are you willing to change?
  • Writing out your thoughts can be a great way to discover what they are!
  • Write a letter (but don’t send it) to the person who made you angry.
  • Find a release. Anger can build up a lot of physical energy that needs a release. Try exercising, punching a pillow, cleaning the house, shredding a piece of paper, cranking up very loud and obnoxious angry music and dancing and yelling along to it.
    • Note: be cautious about doing these things in front of your child… some of them could be worrisome to the child unless you explain calmly what you are doing. “I’ve just got some leftover mad energy I want to get out, so I’m going to punch it into this pillow. I’m not really mad now, but my body still feels like I am, and I’m ready to let that go.”
  • Get your mind off the situation: watch a movie, read a book, work on a project.
  • Anger is a signal that something needs to change. When you’re calm, make the changes that need to be made.

Learn more about handling your anger: www.extension.umn.edu/family/partnering-for-school-success/relationships/dealing-with-your-anger/

Photo: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1176000

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