Our children bring us incredible joy. They can make us laugh in ways we haven’t laughed since we were kids, ourselves. They fill our hearts with a deep and uncompromising love. Yet, those very same children can bring out anger in us. They can get us lose our tempers and make us say things we don’t really mean. It’s never a time we look back on with pride – and we’re often regretful and ashamed after the fact. But getting angry at your children is a perfectly human and normal response to the complicated, often stress-filled job of parenting.
While you cannot completely eliminate the frustrations or emotions that come with raising a family, you can do things to avoid the triggers that set you off. The first step to avoiding anger is to identify the things that provoke you – so that you can make positive changes in your home. Here are some tips:
What sets you off?
Most parents get angry over insignificant problems. They are often minor issues - but they happen on such a regular basis that they become blown way out of proportion. Some of the most common are whining, temper tantrums, sibling bickering, and lack of cooperation. It can help to determine which behaviors most bother you and set about making a plan to correct each problem before it sets off your anger button.
Notice your hot spots
In addition to triggers, there are “hot spots” in the day when anger more easily rises to the surface. These are often times when everyone is tired, hungry or stressed. These emotions leave us more vulnerable to anger. Typically, these times are early morning, before naptime, before meals, bedtime, or the middle of the night. You may also encounter situations when misbehavior increases, and therefore, so does your anger: grocery shopping, play-dates, or family visits, for example.
Set a plan
Once you’ve identified some of the things that set off your anger, you can figure out if there are things you can do differently to snuff out the spark your anger. For example, if the morning rush brings stress, you can prepare things the night before: set out clothing, pack lunches, and find shoes. Then create a “morning poster” that outlines the daily routine step-by-step. Set your own alarm a half hour earlier so you can catch your breath before everyone else in the house wakes up. At first this may be challenging, but one you get in the routine I think you’ll love that quiet start to your day.
If you find that tempers are shorter in the hour before dinner, set out healthy appetizers, enlist the kids’ help in preparing dinner, get the kids involved in a craft activity, or plan an earlier meal time.
You see how this works, right? Identify your vulnerable moments and rearrange your life to take control of these things so that you can stay calm and in control.
Doing things the way you’ve always done them and expecting different results only leaves you frustrated. Instead, identify the things that aren’t working and take action to change them for the better.
Anger is not something that can be dealt with once and then will go away. Your children grow and change, and new issues appear. From time to time take a fresh look at the issues that create negative emotions in your family and take action to change things for the better.
Let love help
And, finally, at times of anger, hold on to the feeling of love that is the foundation of your relationship with your child. Take time every day to bask in the joy of being a parent. Take time to play, talk and listen. Hug, kiss and cuddle your child often. When you build up this foundation of positive love and emotions you will find yourself less likely to experience intense anger.
(These tips are condensed from The No-Cry Discipline Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage God Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums & Tears)