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Anger Management - How Do You Keep Your Cool?

Remaining calm when your kids push the right (or wrong) buttons.

Even with the best of intentions and preparation, parents are human and have faults. We all have bad days and our temper, now and again, may rear it's ugly head while disciplining our children.

Whether it is a very public temper tantrum at the mall or asking your child to pick up a mess multiple times at home, your breaking point can come after a day of challenges and deadlines. Showing a range of emotions sets an important example for kids but demonstrating restraint and remaining calm when you may feel like losing it is vital as well.

No parent wants to yell at their grumpy or difficult child after a bad day but it happens and the guilty feelings are guaranteed to follow. Realistically speaking, it is difficult to avoid losing it sometimes but having a few anger-diffusing tricks in your back pocket can help keep the occasional outburst and bad feelings to the bare minimum.

Looking for some tips? Parents.com has a great list of 10 Ways to Stop Yelling at your kids.

In my experience with my own young children, I have found that laughter can work wonders for kids and their frustrated moms and dads.

Enduring a toddler's tantrum in public is a classic buildup for parental anger. The pressure of the child's actions and unbridled emotion are enough to cause parental anxiety but then add on the perceived and actual staring of bystanders. Mom or Dad could break.

Why not take a deep breath and try to diffuse your child's frustration by simply daring them not to smile or laugh at you? Or stop, gasp and say, "Is that a chicken on your head?" It sounds silly, but that is the idea. Even if you feel like you have to pretend to be playful in the moment, you might fall for your own trick and want to smile too.

This works great for young kids but teenagers? That is another story. We need better answers from our fellow Patch parents. 

Madison and Chatham Parents - Help us with some of your tried and true tricks to keep your own anger or frustration in check when dealing with your kids. We all know everyone gets angry and frustrated at times and there is no perfect parent.

How do you remain calm and take this opportunity to teach your kids how to deal with their own feelings of frustration?

Vanessa Reyda July 14, 2011 at 02:24 AM
I would say leave the room before speaking when you are angry. It's the best way to think so you don't say something negative. We work hard to be a good example for our kids so we shouldn't beat ourselves up when we run out of patience. Make a deal with yourself that tomorrow is a new day.
Melanie Tomaszewski July 14, 2011 at 02:36 AM
I basically always remember, they live more "in the moment" then we do. I learn from her (my 4yr old) and realize that whatever I am feeling will be over in a bit and that there is always the next moment to change my mood. They turn it around so quick, we've just forgotten how to as we got older. Their way is much better!!
Elena Nadgauda July 14, 2011 at 03:08 AM
Thanks for your great article, Melissa! I completely agree that a little humor goes a long way in de-escalating a tense moment. In addition to telling a silly joke or breaking into song and dance when necessary, I find it helpful to simply state how I'm feeling. "Mommy is frustrated because..." This can really help us both move on. And in the ideal world when I am able to zoom out and get some perspective, I try to validate the feelings underlying my child's behavior which can really cut the behavior and help us relax.
Melissa Bartoli July 14, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Thanks for all of the great feedback and advice!!
Kerri July 15, 2011 at 12:07 AM
I hope this doesn't show up twice, because I just commented and then it disappeared. But anyway, I wanted to say that a good thing to remember is that it's not so much that moment when you let your anger show that matters, but more what comes next. If you regret it and just hope your child will forget it or get over it, but never mention it, that can be a mistake. But if you calm down and later go to your child and explain what happened and how you felt, then ask your child to tell you how it felt for him or her in that moment and validate whatever is said, then follow it with a big hug, that's a really great learning and growth opportunity. Like Melissa said, it's important for kids to see a range of emotion. When you take that time to explain how you feel, or listen to how they feel, or ask them to imagine how another person (like a jealous friend, for instance) might feel and why, it helps them to develop empathy and understanding.

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