Worried by your anger at your child?

Many parents are concerned by the level of anger they feel toward their children. It’s a good reason to seek some help.

When you realize that you are angry a lot of the time or you are surprised by your anger, it’s time to consider how to manage it.  You might be thinking that you wouldn’t be so angry if your child would only do as you wish.  If he would pick up his toys or she would try harder on homework, you wouldn’t have to yell, you might think.  Doesn’t she get it, that if she would only do it, you wouldn’t yell at her?

Well, as Dr. Phil says, “How’s that working for you?”  When we scold, yell, and lose control as parents, we are teaching behavior.  Scary thought, isn’t it?  And if the angry behavior isn’t getting the behavioral results you want, it’s time to step back and look at the big picture.  For one thing, it is probably time for everyone to take a time out.  Yes, parents too.  You can’t solve problems when both sides are very angry, so take time to cool off.  Come back to the issue when you are calmer.  This doesn’t mean you give in.  You come back to the issue when both are calm.  It could be that in the moment you child does not obey you, but coercion is not a good way to get things done in a family.

When you come back to the issue, talk calmly and name the problem.   Avoid generalizations like, “you always and you never.”  Never use insults or call names.  Empathize with you child’s point of view.   “I know you want to watch another show very much.”  Ask your child for solutions to the problem.  Accept what he or she says with respect.  If the solutions offered are not practical, explain why.  Decide what the solution will be (together if you can) and then walk away.

It’s true that this is a long process, and you might not get the result you want right away, but yelling or threatening to get cooperation is not effective.  It’s painful all around to have hurtful arguments.  If you can address issues in a reasonable manner, inviting children to solve problems with you, you will teach them behavior that will serve your family and your child well for years to come.

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