Tuesday, August 9, 2011
How can I stop myself from getting angry at my kids?
Sometimes I wonder if even Mother Teresa would have gotten frustrated at her kids now and then. I don’t know one parent or caregiver out there (including myself) that does not get angry at his or her children from time to time. We each have different triggers and we do not all get to the point of yelling (though most of us do at least sometimes) but frustration is part of being around children.
I believe there is there a way to catch ourselves at the point of frustration before our top blows. But like all worthwhile things in life, it takes time and practice. The only way to have patience in life and in parenting is to experience the things that frustrate us and learn to deal constructively with them.
Our anger comes from more than just what our children do. It usually builds up from other things too. From work, other children’s behaviors or even past mishaps of the child you are frustrated with. We need to recognize that those other issues are not the fault of our children. We should not take out the frustrations we have for our boss or your spouse on our children. They don’t deserve it.
We are more likely to get angry with our children when we are over tired and/or they are exhausted. If we can avoid over scheduling ourselves and our children, we might find that a lot of the times of anger will go away. We will be more rested and therefore more able to stay calm. So will our children. Remember children need between 8-12 hours of sleep (more if they are young) and adults should be getting on average 8 hours, too. If a children are beyond the napping phase of life, that does not mean they don’t need some “down” time. It can make a world of difference.
We may not be aware of how angry we seem to our children. If we give our children permission to tell us when they feel we start to yell, it can make us more aware of our anger. We can find a phrase that will not infuriate us even more and then make a promise to the children that when the phrase is said we will take a step back and reevaluate the way we are talking.
That brings me to the next step. When we find ourselves beginning to get angry, take an adult time out. If it is safe we should walk away and be by ourselves for 5 min. We should say something to our children but it is best to have a kind and loving phrase ready for when the time comes. If we say what we are thinking, we may regret it later. Try “I am beginning to get frustrated with you and need some time by myself to calm down.” We then take those 5 minutes to breathe and remember how much we love them. We think about all the other things that might be frustrating us and that we do not mean to take all that out on our child. Then return better able to assess the situation.
The really cool thing about this technique is that by taking a time out ourselves, our children will learn healthy and effective ways to deal with their anger. They might even start doing the same.
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