Controlling Parental Anger (page 2)
How to Keep Your Cool
Mike works all day ... long, hard hours. He has a successful business and works hard to keep a good relationship with his clients and employees. But 10 minutes with Annie, his four-year-old, and he becomes a rage-a-holic.
Every night when he comes home, he just wants to relax and read the newspaper, but Annie wants to play. He tells her nicely to watch TV, and she refuses.
Suddenly lightening hits, and he's screaming at her and stomping around the house. He's in a rage … slamming doors, you name it … He can’t control himself."
Anyone can be angry … even the most able and mild-mannered parent. Parents like Mike worry about the frequency and intensity of anger they feel toward their children. A lot of this anger comes from utter frustration -- not knowing how to manage children's behavior. Anger also occurs when a child falls short of a parent's expectations, when kids embarrass their parents in public, and when they show disrespect.
Unresolved frustration leads to distress, and frequent angry outbursts ensue.
Anger Doesn't Work
Parents’ uncontrollable outbursts rarely improve children's behavior. Don't you secretly wish they would? Wouldn't parenting be easier if you could yell at your child, "Get dressed right now, young lady. Stop playing around and wasting time. You're going to make me late for work and I’ll lose my job," and your daughter would jump into her clothes and then climb into the car, waiting patiently while you put on your makeup and make one quick phone call?
You might think a child would comply with angry demands to avoid the unpleasantness of these scenes, but that usually isn't the case. Some children become immune to your anger; they ignore it, while for others, anger has a contagious effect; children fight back with an angry defensive response of their own.
Parents need to find effective, realistic ways to deal with anger. Children are gifts … treasures … jewels. As angry as you may be, remember how much you love them. Never let yourself forget that – first and foremost.
If you were treated with anger when you were a child, remember it and feel it. Remember how bad it felt? So why would you want to inflict the same hurt on your children?
Find The Balance
Even though anger is not the emotion you want pervading your household, it's unrealistic to think that you will always be a calm "Brady Bunch" kind of mom or dad. If you suppress your anger so much that you're like a smoldering volcano, eventually you’ll blow , but on the other hand you can't allow your fury to run unchecked.
How Do You Strike A Balance?
Understand that you'll always respond more effectively if you notice when those feelings of anger are starting to well up, while they're still at a low level of intensity.
- When your anger starts to build, stop, count to 10, and take some deep breaths.
- Move slowly toward your child and get on his or her level; sit on the floor near your toddler or preschooler; sit on the sofa next to your older child.
- If you are truly ready to explode, call a neighbor and ask them to stay with the kids while you out for a walk.
- Leave the house as soon as you can find someone to stay with the kids.
Now, What Do You Say?
Tell your child that you are starting to get angry. Describe the exact situation that's provoking your anger: "Your toys are scattered all over the floor."
Explain what you want done about it, and put a time limit on it: "Dinner will be in 10 minutes. I expect them to be cleaned up and put away before we eat. I'll set the timer."
Progress, Not Perfection
It’s a given that children's naughty behavior provokes anger in their parents. Learning new responses takes a lot of effort, and change comes slowly. If you succeed once a week in using your anger productively to improve children's behavior, give yourself credit for small successes. It takes time and it takes patience.
Know When To Get Help
If you feel that your children have taken away your freedom, are depleting your finances and are draining your energy, and you’re unleashing anger at them because of that – it’s not fair! Now is the time to seek professional assistance to manage your own internal struggles.
Working Through The Problem
In the case of Mike and his daughter Annie, Mike had to decide what he wanted to occur every night and then find a constructive way to make it happen. With the help of a counselor, he worked through the problem. He identified his need for some peace and quiet when he arrived home from work, but realized that Annie needed him, too.
He was determined to give Annie his first five minutes once he got home, watching TV with her. He couldn’t believe how this little bit of attention worked, and it freed Mike to read the newspaper in quiet.
Anger shrinks intimacy and keeps children at an emotional distance. It can take over your home and destroy the parent-child relationship. If you learn how to manage anger, your children will learn to express anger as you do.
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