HANDLING YOUR ANGER AT YOUR CHILD
At some point, we all get angry at our children who perfectly know how to push our buttons. The challenge is to call on our maturity so that we can control the expression of our anger and thus minimize the impact on our children. Parents’ anger is nothing short of terrifying to our children as they are dependent on us for food, shelter, safety, protection. So, the challenge is to model healthy ways of handling anger so that our children can learn from us.
Here are a few strategies to help you manage anger responsibly:
1. Set limits before getting angry. Oftentimes, parents get angry because they have not set a limit, and something is nagging them. As soon as you start feeling angry, it is time to intervene in a positive way. You will probably need to interrupt what you are doing, restate your expectations, and redirect them, to keep the situation, and your anger, from escalating.
2. Calm down yourself before acting. In order to deal with a difficult situation, it is essential that you calm down first. Stop, drop your agenda, and breathe. Deep breath helps decrease the tension in the nervous system. Shake the tension out of your hands. Take several deep breaths. Dancing and singing can help to physically discharge the anger as well.
3. Wait before disciplining. Acting while angry is not recommended at all. Instead say something like “I can’t believe you hit your brother after we’ve talked about how hitting hurts. I need to think about this, and we will talk about it this afternoon. Until then, I expect you to be on your best behavior.” Take a 10-15-minute timeout to calm yourself. If it is not enough, do not hesitate to postpone the discussion off until you feel ready to have a calm and constructive conversation with your children.
4. Avoid threats. Threats made while you are angry are always unreasonable. If you don’t follow through, then they will undermine your authority and make it less likely that your children will follow the rules next time. Instead, think of an appropriate response to your children’s misbehavior and let them know once you made a sound decision.
5. Avoid physical force. Many studies have shown that the use of physical force has a negative impact on children’s development that lasts throughout life. Spanking may make you feel better temporarily because it discharges your anger, but it does not solve anything and ultimately sabotages everything positive you do as a parent. So, it is best to control yourself, including leaving the room. If you cannot control yourself and end up using the physical force, apologize to your children telling them you were wrong to act this way.
By modeling a healthy model dealing with your own anger, your children will learn how to handle their own anger in appropriate ways. It is a win-win situation.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.