Ways to control your anger with your kids
No matter what kind of parent you are, you get angry with your children. It’s just a part of life with kids. Maybe your daughter didn’t give you an important message. Perhaps your son tracked mud all over your freshly mopped floor. It happens every day around the world. Regardless of why, parents must to learn to control their temper around their kids.
According to Laura Markham, author of "Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids," the most important thing for any parent feeling their anger well up is to commit to not yelling, hitting, or other detrimental actions. The job of the parent, she says, is to be mature enough to not overreact and fly off the handle either verbally or physically.
A mother of two, Markham also has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Columbia University and has worked as a parenting coach with thousands of parents across the world. She has several steps to help parents keep their tempers in check when the kids become too much to handle.
First, she recommends setting limits before the anger occurs. She said when parents start to feel their temper rise, do something proactive to counter it. If it’s been a rough day, tell the kids you need quiet and to decompress before they trigger an anger response. Children can also be distracted and redirected from destructive behavior to prevent a parent from becoming overly agitated in a situation.
She suggests the parent calm themselves before dealing with the children.
“When you feel this angry, you need a way to calm down,” she said. “Awareness will always help you harness your self-control and shift your physiology: Stop, Drop (your agenda, just for a minute), and Breathe. That deep breath is your pause button. It gives you a choice. Do you really want to get hijacked by those emotions?”
But when your precious angels get the better of you, you can still hide in your room or the car and scream into a pillow. Markham said to be sure it’s done away from children, though.
Give yourself a time out. Those handy breaks are not just for kids. Send yourself to your room for five minutes and breathe. Not only will this help you calm, but it also removes yourself physically from your child. If your child is too young to be left alone for five minutes, Markham advises going to the sink, running cold water on your hands, wiping down your face, and taking deep breaths.
The next step is to listen to your anger as opposed to acting on it. According to Markham, our anger can stem from rules not being enforced properly to having a poor relationship with a coworker. Digging to the bottom of it can help alleviate the anger before it starts.
“The constructive way to handle anger is to limit our expression of it, and when we calm down, to use it diagnostically: what is so wrong in our life that we feel furious, and what do we need to do to change the situation?” she said.
Markham also notes that expressing our anger to others only keeps your blood boiling longer, so avoid sharing the situation with others. Self reflection into the whys of anger is more important than venting, she noted.
Finally, parents should wait before disciplining children. Never act while angry or you may regret your actions.
“If you’ve taken a 10-minute timeout and still don’t feel calm enough to relate constructively, don't hesitate to put the discussion off,” Markham said.
Tell your child that you still need to think about what happened and calm down further before you can discuss it. Promise to speak with him or her later and follow through.
Remember that you should never hit your child, especially in anger. If you have hit your child in the past, apologize, and seek additional help if you feel it might be needed. Also avoid threatening your child with idle ideas, as they are usually not rational. Parents should also mind their volume, tone, and choice of words.
Anger happens all the time in households. But it is up to parents to set an example to their children about how to handle a temper. Markham’s advice to Stop, Drop, and Breathe is a great starting point for families.