Parenting is stressful and whether you’re a dad, stay-at-home mom or working mom, each have its own set of struggles. Sometimes we see parents losing it when disciplining their kids, at times we are guilty of it too. Lashing out, hitting, with body language that clearly communicates anger and a loss of control. However, we know that it is not helpful to be an angry parent (we may also end up being an angry spouse or an angry colleague).
Here are 8 important tips to parenting without anger.
Tip #1 Examine the Source
It may not always be the kids. We can get angry with our children because we are angry with our spouse. This is quite common especially when we cannot fight in front of our children, we may end up taking out the unresolved anger on our children. It may be a loss of job that worry us and cause us to explode at the smallest matter. Resolve matters with your spouse, recognise that you’re vulnerable in a difficult situation in your life, and explain to your child if he is old enough that you may not be as calm or cheerful during this period but you will try your best.
Tip #2 Recognise Triggers
For some parents, it may be a certain trigger, for instance playing too loudly or being rude that set them off. Pay attention to yourself, how your body reacts and your thoughts in situations when you get angry. Discuss with your spouse, have a list of ‘self-talks’ on-hand to moderate your reaction to these triggers.
For instance, you can tell yourself that children are naturally loud when they get excited playing with friends. Before you can control your anger fully, you may want to stay away from certain situations, such as volunteering to serve guests in the house rather than look after all the kids outside.
Tip #3 Parenting Time-Out
Use time-out for yourself. Explain to your child that you are upset with certain behaviours and that you need to calm down before talking to him about the incident. Never discipline in anger as it often sends the wrong message that spanking, or being harsh is okay and children may not know what is the problem with the behaviour (but know that you are angry over it). Hitting a child when you’re angry can easily cross the line to violence which has been researched to affect children negatively.
Tip #4 Me-Breaks
Let’s face it. Our society today is not easy to navigate, especially when parents typically have to care for elderly parents, be on 24/7 for bosses and every party we interact with has his/her expectations of us. Having instant communication tools can sometimes be draining – we are expected to respond instantly! Take me-breaks whenever you can, sit somewhere you are comfortable and take deep breaths, relax.
Tip #5 Lower Expectations
Don’t forget that often people present their best to us – be it during face to face conversations, email sharing or over social media. How often would someone voice all his/her anger and air dirty laundry in public? Realistically examine your expectations from your spouse, your children and from yourself. Should certain expectations be lowered so that you don’t get angry that they aren’t met?
Tip #6 Understand Your Child
Children don’t set out to make us angry. Sometimes it may be to get attention, other times they may not know that it’s unacceptable behaviour. For instance, if your child calls other kids’ names, could it be he doesn’t understand that it is not right? An aunt or uncle may have called him names (in a friendly manner) and he assumed it’s okay to do that to other children. If your child is very slow in learning a certain subject, could it be he is not that good at it and requires another method of learning? (There are many types of intelligences and many ways of understanding a concept.) Understanding your child will help you manage your anger when you see the reason behind the action.
Tip #7 Look into Your Lifestyle
Enough sleep, good nutrition and healthy dose of exercise will help you manage your emotions. Spending time with your spouse, finding ways to connect with your family and friends also help. Set a weekly time to do something you find relaxing – reading, yoga or watching a movie. Ask for help from your spouse when you need or give each other time off.
Tip #8 Positive Discipline
Don’t give up on your parenting! View parenting as a skill you need to improve – read books and be committed to a few behaviours that you would like to work with your child. Put them into practice and commit to do so as a couple. For instance, set clear limits, take the time to communicate with your child and role model the right behaviour.
The next time you feel like exploding when you’re parenting, take deep breaths and think through some of these tips. Don’t give yourself pressure or beat yourself up (or get angry with yourself!) when you couldn’t control your anger as well as you would like. Take one step at a time and give your family lots of hugs – it has shown to be stress-reducing and definitely works to defuse anger.
Do you think parenting without anger is possible? Share your thoughts with us!