We all love our kids. And we all have moments when they drive us crazy. That’s perfectly normal. What isn’t normal is to react to such incidents with out-of-control anger.
Parents soon learn that their children, even when very young, will try their patience and get them upset at times. But being upset or frustrated isn’t the same as real anger, an emotional response that can only cause problems.
Anger raises your blood pressure, blankets rational thought and has you acting in ways, such as yelling, swearing, insulting, shaking and hitting, that accomplish no good and solve no problems, but can do real harm.
It’s vital to realize that anger can be controlled. It’s not an outside force, but rather something we manufacture on our own. You, not someone else, are responsible for your anger.
It helps, in controlling anger, to understand why you get angry. For most parents it’s usually connected to a loss of control. From a toddler not listening to you, to a teen coming home past curfew, makes us feel that our authority and control over our children has been seriously undermined.
A first step in handling anger is to give up some of that need to control. While we certainly need to set limits and teach our children, we also have to acknowledge that they will make mistakes all the same. Accepting that, and using the mistake to teach a lesson, is a positive response. Becoming angry and violent is not.
It also helps to look at your angry response from your child’s point of view. Experiencing an angry tantrum or worse from a parent isn’t going to fix the problem or change that past behavior. Instead, it is more likely to truly threaten, scare and traumatize a young child, and bring about a negative, angry, rebellious response from an older child. Either response makes it harder to learn a lesson from the mistake that was made.
One method for controlling an angry response is not to react immediately. Yes, counting to ten and taking deep breaths does work. So does pausing to consider what your child will be experiencing if you fly off the handle. Will your anger do any good, or just set a bad example for your child to model?
If controlling your anger is difficult for you, talk to a professional counselor. A counselor specializing in anger management can offer a variety of ways for getting anger under control.
“The Counseling Corner” is provided as a public service by the American Counseling Association, the nation’s largest organization of counseling professionals. Learn more about the counseling profession at the ACA web site, www.counseling.org.