Parenting can be very stressful, and everyone gets angry at times.
Anger toward your children can happen in a variety of situations:
- Not knowing how to manage your child’s behavior.
- Having expectations your child can’t meet.
- Feeling embarrassed by your child in public.
- Being disrespected by your child.
If you expect yourself to be even and calm all the time, you may be stuffing your feelings, which can lead to a “blow up.” Find a balance that works for you and your family.
Tips to find balance:
- Practice positive discipline, especially when you are angry.
- Use healthy communication. Move slowly toward your child and get on their level by sitting or kneeling on the floor.
- When anger starts to build, stop, count to 10, and take some deep breaths.
- Give yourself a time out. If you are truly ready to “lose your cool,” put your child in a safe place, such as the crib, with your partner, or a trusted neighbor. Then go cool off.
- Set limits before you get angry. If you know you have had a long day and may easily be angered, let your children know this or direct them to a quiet activity.
- Shake the tension out through your hands.
- If possible, try to find 15-30 minutes for a walk by yourself after a long day.
- Find the true source of anger. Sometimes anger toward a boss or partner can be easily transferred to your children. Therefore, knowing where your anger is coming from can help resolve it.
- If you find that you need a little more time to yourself in the evening to relax, try putting your children to bed just a half hour earlier. This can give you time to relax after a long day and get organized for the next day.
- Seek counseling if anger is very frequent. There is no shame in asking for help.
As an adult, you can work through your frustrations before they evolve into outbursts of anger. This way, you can also teach your children how to deal with anger through example. No matter how angry you get, it is most important to remember how much you love your child!
Strategies to avoid building anger or deal with situations that could lead to anger:
- Learn about child development: Sometimes, it may seem that children are willfully acting out, when they actually are too young to understand or meet expectations.
- Offer choices: State the behavior your child is making that you are unhappy with and tell her either to change behavior or receive a consequence. If the behavior continues, then initiate the consequence. Find consequences that work for your child – and follow through with consequences when you set them.
- Express your feelings: Let your children know what you are feeling. Children are sensitive to other’s feelings; if they know what you are feeling, they may change their behavior.
- Accept your child’s feelings: “I understand….” It is important for your child to know that you understand how she is feeling, even while you are clear that negative behaviors are not an acceptable way to deal with feelings.
- State a rule: Instead of yelling, simply say that the behavior is not allowed, state a consequence, and say that you will discuss the behavior after the consequence is over and your child has calmed down.
- Do not spank or use other physical punishment. Spanking can damage your child’s trust of you, cause acting out, and create other mental health impacts. Research does not support spanking, but it shows that timeouts are very effective.