Tag Archives: Anger

Coping with Anger

angerThis is part 3 of this week’s series on Parental Anger

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 ______.”

See more Do’s and Don’ts at http://www.extension.umn.edu/family/Parents-Forever/resources-for-families/yourself/emotional-and-social/dos-and-donts-of-managing-anger/.

photo credit: try harder via photopin (license)

Preventing Parental Meltdowns

calmThis is part 2 of this week’s series on Parental Anger

Every parent will have bad days – times when we’re overwhelmed and stressed, and find ourselves yelling at our kids. We want to do what we can to reduce these meltdowns. Regular readers of my blog may notice that some of these tips relate quite closely to my Tips for Taming Toddler Meltdowns, because we’re human beings just like our kids are, and we need some of the same basic stuff to be happy…

  • Eat, Sleep, and Be Well: Just as a toddler is more likely to melt down when hungry, tired, or sick, so are we. As much as possible, take care of your body.
  • Reduce Stress / Make Lifestyle Choices that Make it Easier to Be Happy: The more generalized stress we’re living with, the more likely we are to get upset easily and have a hard time calming ourselves down. Here are some ways to reduce stress
    • Make a list of people and situations you find stressful. Can you reduce your exposure to them? Can you make a plan for managing them? Can you ask someone to support you in dealing with those situations?
    • Take deep breaths, meditate, or visualize yourself in a peaceful place.
    • Move, dance, exercise, or go for a walk outdoors.
    • Make time for self care and for doing things that you enjoy.
  • Get support from others. Talking to others (especially other parents) can help!
  • Figure out your triggers: what are things that are likely to trigger your anger? What can you do to reduce your chance of encountering them? When one of your triggers is happening, it can even help to say to yourself “this is the kind of thing that really makes me mad… how can I manage my feelings in the next few minutes?”
  • Look for consistent patterns: If you’re yelling at the kids every morning before school, think about what you could change in the routine to help mornings go better. If you’re battling with your child over the same issue over and over, maybe it’s worth looking at it in detail when you’re calm, and deciding exactly what the rules are and what the consequences are for breaking them.
  • Heal your past: If you have unresolved issues in your emotional / family history, get support with processing them, so you don’t take that historical anger out on your kids.
  • Acknowledge present stresses: “Mommy is really overloaded with work right now and really worried about how she’ll get it all done. So, she may be acting angry more than usual. But it’s not your fault.” Or “I’m really in pain today, so I’m having a hard time being patient.”

Sometimes, despite your best efforts and intentions, you will melt down. You will get angry. Read on for tips on handling your anger in the moment.

photo credit: 湯河原町, 日本. Yugiwara Japan via photopin (license)

Parental Anger

angryParents 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

(If you’re a parent educator, who would like a one page printable handout on this topic, click here: Parental Anger.)

photo credit: Yelling Man via photopin (license)