Ready to stop shouting?
The most common thing that parents would like to change about themselves is the way they shout at (or occasionally smack) their child. It is normal and natural to experience anger. It is there as a warning that something is wrong and needs to change. However, in the short-term what can you do when your little one is pushing all your buttons and you want to keep your cool?
11 ways to stay calm
Look at the list below and find something that could work for you:
- Pause. Stop and think before you act. If it helps pretend you have a pause button on a remote control and physically press the button.
- Act calm. Try to act calm, even if you don’t feel it.
- 3 deep breaths. Take a few deep breaths, say the alphabet backwards or count to ten in your head.
- Re-frame. Say a mantra in your head ‘I can be the adult here’, ‘I can handle it’. ‘He’s/she’s only a child’ or ‘Keep calm’.
- Contemplate. Ask yourself ‘What exactly am I angry about?’
- Leave. Walk away if your child is safe. Say ‘I need some time to calm down’
- Distract yourself. Find something else to do for a minute or two –make a cup of tea, put some music on loud (Abba is great!) or look out of the window.
- Visualise. Pretend that it is a friend’s child and act how you would if that was true
- Picture a mentor. Pretend someone you admire is in the room with you, such as a good friend. Even imagining your mother-in-law on the sofa can help!
- Park your emotions. Visualise yourself picking up your emotions and putting them down next to you. You can pick them up later and deal with them when you are calm
- Delay talking. Say ‘we can talk about this later, but right now I am feeling too wound up’
Practice whatever technique you choose at least fifteen times so you can access it easily when the red mist descends!
Safely expelling angry feelings
- If you need to go to a private place and scream, but not where your child can hear you.
- Do something physical such as punching a pillow, vigorous exercise or running on the spot
- Go to a mirror and say all the angry things you would like, pretending that you are talking to your child.
13 techniques for long-term anger management
In the long-term, you may need to think about some ways to help reduce your anger erupting.
- Decide rules and consequences. Work out what rules you want to have in place, and be utterly consistent with any consequences if the rules are broken. That way you will have a plan of action, and both you and your child will know what will happen. It helps you to stay calm and in control.
- Have daily quiet time. For instance, plan to have some time to yourself occasionally or time to enjoy yourself- it will help recharge your batteries and help you feel better when you feel stressed. Plan to swap babysitting with a friend if you need to.
- Build a good relationship. Give your child plenty of attention (and descriptive praise) for being good. It’s good to plan to spend regular, positive one-to-one time when you can. It will stop your child feeling they need to be naughty to get your attention
- Work out what helps. Think about whether your behaviour is helping your relationship with your child in the long-term. Sometimes this can help change your perspective and concentrate on what is really important.
- Ask pertinent questions. Think about what caused you to get angry. Sometimes we need to change the way we think. Ask yourself
- What evidence do I have that this is accurate?
- Is there another possible explanation for what is going on here?
- What can I do to have some control over the situation?
- If my best friend was in the same situation, what would I say to them?
- Think of your child as an experimenter. Often children are not being naughty, but are experimenting. To see what works and what doesn’t work to influence those around them. It’s important to be aware of their stage of development and re-frame what you are saying to yourself about why they are behaving in a certain way.
- Prevent poor behaviour. If we have allowed our child to behave in a certain way it is up to us to tackle the behaviour, by setting up a routine or having a new rule with rewards and consequences.
- Be assertive. Learn how to say things in an assertive way. A good way to say what you want assertively, is to use the phrase, ‘I feel…..When…. And I’d like…….’ Alternatively you can say I’d like you to… Or Please can you … and ask for what you want.
- Use an authoritative tone of voice. Practice giving instructions in a calm, polite manner. Give clear, brief commands in a firm tone.
- Exercise regularly. It may be good to start an exercise programme, non-contact competitive sport or take up a martial art. Exercise can help get some of that physical energy out of our system in a controlled way.
- Plan down time. Plan time for relaxation or meditation every day if possible. However, even once a week would be good.
- Reflect and problem-solve. it can help to sit down and take a long honest look at why you are getting angry. You may be able to identify what is causing you to feel frustrated, and what you can change to make things easier for yourself.
- Set the right example. Remember that your children will learn how to manage their own anger and frustrations from watching you.
You can really help your child by learning how to keep your anger under control, express yourself assertively and show them appropriate ways of dealing constructively with anger.