Anger is a normal emotion and a natural response to many types of situations. But as we know, anger is also a volatile, negative emotion, so learning how to manage it effectively is something everyone should strive for, but parents, in particular, have an obligation to manage anger successfully. After all, they’re tasked with modeling good behavior for their kids. But, yes, parents get angry, and often with good reason. We get angry with our partners, our employers, and our kids. Sometimes the anger is warranted, sometimes it isn’t. Here, we’ll explore some of the best ways for coping with our anger so we can teach our children how to cope with it too.
1. Practice Mindfulness
As humans with our stress-filled lives, we can get really angry. We have a bad day at work, come home, and then see our kid vault into the street without looking for cars. Boom–we snap.
We see red. We start yelling at them in front of the neighbors, their friends. Maybe we embarrass them and make them feel ‘dumb’ in the course of our tirade. Absolutely, there’s a better way to approach a moment of crisis.
First, it’s not about our anger. In this case, it’s about fear, fear that our child can be hurt because of their own carelessness. When we’re mindful and approach our emotions and emotional response, we can more effectively address the situation.
Often, anger is only masking other emotions. When we stop to reflect about a situation, we can put the problem into better perspective. Do we really want to erode our child’s self confidence in front of their friends? Of course not. So, we meditate to find a more reasonable method for getting through to them and confronting them about their actions.
2. Calm Down
It’s tough to make wise decisions from a place of anger. When you’re angry at your children or anyone else in your household, it’s best to stop yourself from responding until you’re calm and thoughtful. Maybe this means you walk into another room for a few moments. Maybe you need an hour or the afternoon before you’re ready to confront the situation. Start by controlling and slowing your breathing. Make a cup of tea. Walk the dog. It’s crucial that your kids see you manage your anger thus; don’t worry, they’ll know you’re upset. But, they’ll learn that facing a difficult situation requires a calm approach.
And, of course, when you’re calm, you’ll be able to think more carefully about how to best respond. When we act too quickly out of anger, we can say things we normally wouldn’t. We can be hurtful and make a bad situation even worse. Anger is emotional fire. Before you act, douse that fire with some emotional calm and tranquility. It’s not easy, but the more you practice, the better you’ll become at handling your more fiery emotions.
Remember, emotions can be challenging to manage. We’ll spend our entire lives trying to manage them well. But modeling our genuine attempt to control will demonstrate to kids that there are positive and negative ways to handle our negative emotions. If you lose your temper and your anger explodes, and it was not warranted, it’s ok to apologize. Get down on your child’s level, look them in the eye, and tell them that you are sorry that your emotions got the better of you. Then, try again. Approach the matter through calm and rationality.
Modeling good behavior is crucial to helping children develop their own coping skills.