While the slogan ‘keep calm and carry on’ is a popular mantra, it is much easier said than done. Everyone loses his or her cool once in a while; negative emotions are part of being human. Still, very few people can have angry outbursts without seeing some ramifications. Parents need to be especially diligent about anger management, as their children are constantly watching and absorbing the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The irony of anger management while parenting is that raising children is inherently taxing. Furthermore, children are experts at pushing their parents’ buttons, eliciting a highly charged response. What is a parent to do? These anger management tips might be all it takes to harness this stormy emotion.
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. However, this someone isn’t just anyone; it’s your child. Now imagine being yelled at. The person yelling at you is physically much, much bigger than you. Plus, you adore this screaming being. He or she is the center of your universe! You were trying your hardest and doing your best, but you made a mistake, a miscalculation. You haven’t yet learned these things and aren’t mature enough to behave differently. Before you tear into your child, imagine how you would feel.
Find a way to laugh about the crazy situation you may find yourself in. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade as this dad did. His wife was hesitant to leave the house for an outing, as the young couple had recently had a baby, and the musician father hadn’t yet been alone with all three kids. She left a long list which included the task of feeding the baby finger foods. Easy, right? Nonetheless, this baby had quite an arm for slinging food around the room. Of course, this made the older kids laugh and join the fun. The oldest child shouted out to her father, “Dad, let’s write a song about this!” This wise dad possessed excellent anger management skills as he started singing and enlisting his family to help him clean up. Kids love experiences like this and will learn healthy anger management tips that will last a lifetime.
Child-rearing is wrought with unknowns that can cause worry and fear. Examine what the real emotion/problem is that you are feeling. Are you insecure about your parenting skills or afraid of how your child reflects on your skills as a mom or dad? Are you experiencing misplaced frustration that isn’t even related to your child? Has the baby kept you awake all night, and you just need some sleep? Maybe you are rushed, running late, or overbooked. Even if the real root of your anger is something that is in fact related to your child, it’s imperative that your have a healthy response.
Physically, mentally, and emotionally step away from your child if possible. Take a time out. Step into another room or outside if your kids are old enough. Break away for a minute to calm down. Anger management is about managing you, not about handling your children. Take breaks preemptively, before you are facing a nerve-wracking situation. This will help you be a healthier, happier parent. Treat yourself well so that you can treat your family well.
Give a name to the emotions you are feeling. Are you furious or just upset? In a healthy way, use words that truly convey your point of view. Are you hurt, raging or scared? Your child will learn how to express his or her feelings more accurately from the good example that you set. Talk it through briefly, then move on; don’t dwell on it.
Pick your battles. Don’t make a stand on every mountain. Sometimes it’s more important to communicate a message of love and mercy to your child. If you feel it’s necessary, tell them that you’re upset, but that you love them and expect them to make a change. It can be as simple as that. Other times, words aren’t needed; a hug will diffuse the situation.
So, keep calm and carry on! Be diligent, yet not too hard on yourself. Each child is different. Each situation is different. Each age is different. Sometimes anger management is a breeze. Other times, it will take every ounce of strength that you have! Continue to learn and practice new strategies. Be sure to take care of yourself and seek help when you need it. Help can be found from professional counselors. Maybe an occasional babysitter is all you need. Either way, your vitality is critical to the success of your family.