There’s no doubt about it, kids are experts at pushing their parents’ buttons.
Whether they’re forgetting a rule for the 100th time, acting willfully defiant just to see what happens, or even making an honest mistake that they didn’t know would make you upset, your kids can make you want to throw things out of a window.
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We don’t want to lose our tempers with our children and we may tell ourselves over and over again that we’re going to try harder not to yell or say hurtful things, but sometimes it just keeps happening despite our best efforts.
There are several tried-and-true anger management techniques that you can use to keep your cool with your child. Doing so will not only help your relationship, but will model appropriate anger management techniques that your child can use in the future.
Use Calming Techniques
Next time your child does something that makes you want to explode, try using some basic calming techniques. Take slow, deep breaths and count to 10. Repeat a calming phrase like “I can handle this,” or “I am the adult here.”
Visualize a happy memory of your child so you can remember how much you love her, or think of something funny; if your child dumps a box of Legos into a room you cleaned five minutes ago, you may be less angry if you picture her as Godzilla smashing the house.
Take A Timeout
If you’re so angry that even calming techniques aren’t working, you need to take a timeout from your child before you say something you regret. Some parents prefer to send the child to a room or a timeout chair; proponents of positive discipline prefer to leave the child but say, “I am very angry and I need a timeout” before going to another part of the house to calm down. Either way is fine; just go with what fits your style.
Banish all thoughts like “He’s a monster and I’m a failure as a mother” from your mind. These thoughts will just make you angrier. Rephrase those thoughts in a more positive or neutral way, such as “He’s still having trouble with personal boundaries,” or “It looks like we need to keep working on his attitude.”
This not only keeps you from phrasing the conflict in a “me vs. them” way, but also turns the problem into something you can control. Loaded words like “monster,” “failure,” “always” and “never” makes you feel helpless, which will make you even angrier as a defense mechanism.
Picture things from your child’s perspective. Part of why it’s easy to get so angry with our children is because, in our way, we’re as self-centered as they are; it seems like everything they do is done specifically to anger or embarrass us!
Imagining things from your child’s point of view makes it easier to avoid falling into that mindset. She isn’t taking her coat off right before it’s time to go because she wants to make you jump through hoops; she’s doing it because she’s hot and has no impulse control.
Use Calm Words
When you discipline your child, keep your words and tone as calm as possible, which is easier said than done, but using those calming techniques should help.
If you act calm, you might actually be able to convince yourself that you are calm. Levelly stating, “I am very upset that you broke this rule, and now you are going to get a timeout” is more effective than screaming.
Identify The Problems
Once you’ve calmed down, you can make a list of the things your child does that really push your buttons and look for solutions. Why do those particular things make you angry? What can you do to address those problems? Is there something that seems to trigger your child’s annoying behavior, like hunger or tiredness?
If your child is old enough, you might even be able to enlist his or her help in coming up with a solution to the problem.