Anger is a very complicated emotion, and even parents don’t always understand it. When we think of anger, we often imagine our children throwing temper tantrums and hitting a sibling or we imagine a shouting match between our older children as they engage in a power struggle over the TV remote control.
Unfortunately, anger is not an emotion exclusive to children – parents feel it too. When left unchecked, parental anger can become a household-wide issue that affects everyone. Therefore, it is important for parents to understand not only their child’s anger, but their own as well. Then, once parents understand anger, they can apply appropriate anger management strategies to help them deal with strong emotions more effectively.
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Why Parents Get Angry With Their Children
As parents, we do our best to do good for our children. However, we are all guilty of losing our temper with our children from time to time. We obviously love our children and care deeply about them. So why do they frustrate us so often?
Well, according to experts from child mind institute, there are many reasons why parents get angry with their children. Some of these reasons include:
- Children throw tantrums or are defiant
- Parents feel the need to control their child’s behavior or actions
- Children do not meet parents’ expectations
- Children ignore parent’s requests or don’t do chores
- Parents feel overwhelmed by the multiple demands of children
- A parent feels like they are doing more than their share of parenting duties
- Unrelated stress impacts parenthood
At some point, the anger we feel can no longer be stifled or contained. It means either we explode or we use appropriate anger management strategies to control our anger.
What is Anger Management?
Like The Parent Education Center said very clearly, anger is not a bad emotion to experience. In fact, there are times when anger can be a very effective tool for making life-enhancing changes. However, many of us don’t understand how to interpret the messages that anger gives us, nor do we know how to control our anger once we start feeling it.
According to American Psychological Association, anger management is a strategy specifically designed to help individuals learn to deal with the emotional aspect of anger and reduce the body’s physiological response to anger. In other words, anger management skills help people move from the point of exploding or losing control to an effective, contained form of anger. When we learn to manage our anger, we can use it effectively and make changes without causing additional problems for anyone.
Why parents need to learn this skill
Obviously, everyone can benefit from anger management. However, parents, in particular, need this skill because of the unique way emotional responses affect children. In many cases, children meet our anger with more anger, which does not solve anything. In more extreme situations, our anger can actually cause a fear response in children.
When left unchecked, this fear can create lasting stress and even turn into a traumatic response for children. Therefore, it is important that parents learn to manage their anger, so that they can use it effectively without provoking reactivity in their children.
Anger management strategies for parents
Unfortunately, parents can’t just snap their fingers and master anger management. You’ll need clear strategies to practice, and you’ll need to remember to use these techniques over and over again until they become something you do just when you feel frustrated. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some great anger management strategies recommended by the experts at Ah! parenthood.
Set clear boundaries and expectations
It often happens that we get angry with our kids because of things that, when we step back and really think about it, mostly happen because we haven’t set clear boundaries or expectations with our kids. from the start. However, prevention is one of the best strategies we can use to control our anger – so we need to communicate these things to our children ahead of time.
For example, if you take your children to a store with lots of fragile items, you should talk to them before entering the store to set clear rules to follow. You can even make it a game if you want, as long as the kids understand your expectations and the consequences if they don’t meet those expectations.
Likewise, if you’ve had a stressful day at work and need some quiet time, you should explain this to your children and tell them that your noise and chaos threshold will be lowered tonight. It helps kids plan ahead in their minds, so they can (hopefully) follow through on what you asked.
Take a step back before reacting
Anger is a powerful emotion, and sometimes we jump into a headlong reaction before we even really realize why we’re angry. Unfortunately, this rarely ends well and can cause lasting damage to the parent-child bond. So when you feel your level of frustration rising to the point that you feel compelled to react, take a step back and assess the situation.
First, it can help assess what your anger is really telling you. Are you crazy about what your child has been up to, or are you crazy that you’re taking care of the kids while cooking dinner and talking on the phone with your mother-in-law? Or are you really mad at something unrelated to your kids, but spilling over into your parenting? If you take a moment to figure out the “why” of your anger, you will be better equipped to respond effectively.
Also, you may want to think about the aftermath if you react emotionally to the situation. Will it help you or make you feel worse? Will it force your child to behave more appropriately, or will it just annoy them? Sometimes explosive reactions escalate the situation, but taking a step back can help you assess all possible outcomes before diving into the situation.
Use positive self-talk
Believe it or not, self-talk can be a powerful anger management tool. You can use this tool to reduce your emotional intensity, talk about the situation, and remind yourself that your feelings are valid. Plus, you can talk to yourself to reflect on how you’ve handled similar situations in the past, ask yourself what you need, and even stroke your ego a bit to help you feel better.
Use breathing exercises to reduce your emotional intensity
Although some people refuse breathing exercises and other grounding techniques, they can really help lower your anger levels when situations get risky. Typically, these exercises help reduce the production of stress hormones and relax your muscles, which helps reduce your body’s “fight or flight” response that accompanies anger. Plus, you can help teach your child self-regulation skills by modeling them when you’re feeling overwhelming anger or other strong emotions.
All parents sometimes lose their temper, and that’s okay. However, it is important for parents to learn the best anger management strategies in order to avoid problematic times and power struggles with their children.
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