Remember those days before children when we could honestly say we couldn’t remember the last time we lost our temper? Do you now find yourself from time to time, not recognizing yourself in your own behavior? Children have the ability to push buttons we didn’t even know we had and will push us to the point where we later regret our words and/or actions. Welcome to parenthood. I remember losing it once with my two children over them not going to bed and thinking: “Who was that?” I don’t think there is anything else in the world that brings so much joy while at the same time so much anxiety. Beating yourself up over your reaction to a certain behavior is neither fair on yourself nor productive. We’re all human and from time to time say things we regret. Children need to know that we all make mistakes.
There are times when certain behaviors from our children trigger a weakness in us. If that is the case, we can learn to recognize it for what it and understand why we reacted the way we did. Are we carrying around issues that need resolving that really have nothing at all to do with our children? Are there parts of our character that need strengthening? Are we tolerating things that we can start to let go of? Are we forgetting to express what we need? Behaviors from our children that trigger an emotional response always provide an opportunity to get to know ourselves better.
Once we’ve said something we regret, it’s been said and we can’t take it back. We can though make amends and assume responsibility for our behavior. Children are VERY forgiving. The end of the day is a good time to amend things that might have happened during the day that you don’t feel good about. “I’m really sorry I yelled at you today. You don’t deserve to be yelled at. ” Or, “I’m sorry I spanked you this afternoon. I wasn’t thinking and I know it was wrong of me. ” Or, “I’m not happy with the way I handled what happened today. I’m sorry. Let’s try and make tomorrow a better day. ” Letting children know that we made a mistake and are willing to do things differently role models to them that making a mistake is not wrong, it’s when we don’t own our mistakes that we run into problems.
Some strategies for controlling anger are; walking away before you say something you’ll regret, staying in the present rather than referring to things that happened in the past, avoiding threats of any kind and staying short and to the point. It can also be very helpful just to pick up the phone and call a friend when you think you’re losing control. Chances are they’ve done the same thing and will be happy to provide an understanding ear. We’re all human.
Parenting and Life Coach
Barb Desmarais is a parenting coach and mother of two teenagers. She is the author of “Raising Children But Not Your Voice. " She has worked with parents for over seventeen years.