I admit, I have anger issues. If I have a bad day at work or an argument with somebody, I tend to take it out on my kids. When they act up, I blow up. And now I see my anger rubbing off on them. I saw on TV a mother shot her teenage kids dead because they talked back to her. I’m not that bad, but that got me thinking about myself. How do I control my anger better?
Mad Mama, Forest Park, IL
Dear Mad Mama,
Give yourself a pat on the back for recognizing your problem and addressing it. That’s half the problem solved, In the wake of the recent murders of two teenagers by their Mother, I think it’s important to deal with the subject of anger. However, that mother’s horrendous act went beyond anger, which is something I’m not qualified to address. But I can talk about anger, because we all deal with it – some of us parents handle it better than others. It is not wrong to get angry. But when it consumes you, there’s a problem. I always told my kids growing up, if you lose control, you lose your power. That applies to parents too.
Listen to this 911 call from an enraged mom. Is she raising hell? (Listener discretion advised)
Here are some anger management tips to help you keep your power:
Address past unresolved hurts:
Where did this anger come from? Past disappointments? Childhood abuse? Molestations? Rejection? Abandonment? Be honest with yourself. Your kids may be paying for the hurt and abuse you suffered as a child. How do you start the healing process? For many, prayer is a good first step. To seek guidance beyond yourself, is a form of admittance, and desire for healing. It can be a stepping stone to going toward that next step: seeking professional help. It is wise to talk to an objective party whether it’s a therapist, your clergy or a counselor. Be wary of well meaning friends and relatives. Their advice could make matters worse. If you don’t know where to find professional help, talk to the school counselor for resources (Click here for resources). Heal your hurts before you end up harming your children.
Ask yourself, is it that deep?
Some of us snap at the littlest things. Is that you? Do you carry a short fuse? Do you keep your children on blast? If so, it’s time to chill. Put the situation in perspective. Ask yourself, are your kids’ antics really anger worthy? There’s the small stuff, the irritating nuisances such as accidentally spilling Kool-Aid on the floor. And there’s the big stuff, where harm is done to self, others or property. Reprogram yourself to not sweat the small stuff. With the big stuff, you still need to respond with reason.
Admit that you’re angry
Holding anger in or denying your feelings makes matters worse. It’s like plaque build-up. If you don’t take care of it, your teeth will rot. Anger build-up rots your spirit. It cause you to explode. Who gets caught in the blast? Your kids.
Think before you act
Become self-aware. Consider what you’re about to say and do. Assess the situation. Was it an accident? Did your kids mean any harm? Did it hurt anybody? Was it really that big of a deal or just annoying? Try not to overreact. Pause a second and take a deep breath. Is it small stuff or big stuff? Once you’ve assessed the situation, respond. Keep your voice calm. Don’t curse the kids out. Avoid jumping to conclusions. Don’t shoot now, ask questions later. Take it easy. Counting to 10 is always a good strategy. Don’t hit out of anger.
Know the difference between harmful anger and helpful anger
Dr. Sears, renown family wellness educator, says “Healthy anger compels you to fix the problem, first because you’re not going to let your child’s behavior go uncorrected, and second because you don’t like how the child’s misbehavior bothers you. This is helpful anger.” Harmful anger is when you don’t use it to fix the cause. You just react in it. My friend found out her 12 year old son was ditching school. She was understandably livid. At first she wanted to beat him down then ship his butt to Mississippi to live with his Daddy. But she used her anger to fix the problem. By talking it out instead of beating it out, she found out her son was being bullied at school. He was afraid to go to class. Because she controlled her anger, she discovered the real problem and handled it appropriately.
Look out for anger triggers
In this hustle and bustle called Life, we are bombarded by many challenges. Add your high demanding kids on top of that, and you can blow a fuse. Recognize what sets you off. Overworked? Lost your job? Tangled in a difficult relationship? When big issues are compounded by little annoyances it can push you to the breaking point and your kids will likely become the unfair target. Apologize. Tell them you love them and that it’s not their fault. Tell them you will do better. Then do better.
Don’t be hard on yourself
Learn from your mistakes. Let it motivate you to respond better in the future. Your kids learn from you. How you handle your anger will determine how they will handle their own.