Have you become an angry parent? There is a peculiar phenomenon that you can’t really understand until you’re a parent. Which is the sheer intensity of your anger and frustration caused by the tiny person you love the most.
If you saw another adult talking and behaving towards your child the way you do sometimes, you’d sue them! Yet many parents we consistently shout, threaten, and punish their children, even though they know it doesn’t change the child’s behaviour, because they just don’t know what else to do!
Once you have a toddler or child, it’s 100% normal to feel annoyed or frustrated at times. It’s rare to find a parent who has never shouted at their child. However, when you understand what causes you to lose your temper, you can learn to stay calm. And the more you stay calm, the easier you’ll find it to stay calm the next time. You can actually rewire your brain, to respond calmly and rationally.
Children bring out the worst in parents. But they can also teach their parents patience, understanding, resilience and conflict management skills! Staying calm requires understanding what’s going on for you and using the self-control you want to model for your child. So, they grow up to be calm and behave well (most of the time!) Remember, angry parent = angry child.
Six reasons you get angry with your child
1. You revert to discipline methods your parents used
When a baby is tiny and helpless, most parents can remain calm and patient. Despite extreme lack of sleep and physical stress. However, when a baby becomes a toddler and starts flexing their little muscles, parents begin to feel resentful of the child’s constant demands on their time and patience. Even though most parents want to be amazing parents, and not shout or punish their child, they start raising their voice and losing their temper with their child? Why? Because being an angry parent is their default – or blueprint. It’s hard wired into their brain, and they don’t have an alternative way to discipline their child.
If you don’t know positive, effective ways to discipline your child, without raising your voice, you won’t have the right tools to help your child learn from poor behaviour. Techniques such as having a private chat, or asking for an action replay. Alternatively, you could have a family meeting to discuss the family rules. Or sit down at a good time and helping the child learn from mistakes. All of these will help children feel heard and help them become more able to make better choices in future.
2. You don’t know how to calm yourself
There will have been times in the past when you stayed calm – with your boss, with a family member or with a friend. It’s important to know what worked. Was it three deep breaths, trying to understand why the other person did what they did, saying a mantra in your head, leaving the room? When you know what works for you to stay calm, you can use it with your child.
3. You don’t meet your own needs
It’s important to understand that every adult has needs, and it’s important to make sure you’re meeting your own needs rather than feeling overwhelmed as a parent. For instance, are you getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and exercising? Interestingly other needs may not be as obvious but may also be vital for you to stay calm. For instance the need to reduce alcohol, or smoking, reducing gambling or social media, making time for yourself, keeping up an interest or reducing your work hours. Spending adult time with partner friends or doing something that makes you laugh can make a big difference to your ability to respond calmly to your child. Recognising overwhelm and dealing with it can be key to helping you to stay calm. How too top feeling tired and stressed.
4. You don’t plan ahead
We all feel more stressed when we’re not prepared or are rushing. The simple act of setting an alarm to get up earlier in the morning can help to avoid the morning mayhem and short tempers. Working out how you WANT to respond when your child behaves badly can also help hugely. If you know what you want to say and do in response to your child’s tantrum or outburst, you’re much more likely to respond well, and less likely to become the the angry parent you don’t want to be.
5. You have unrealistic expectations of your child
Children are born with different temperaments. Some children are calm and well behaved, others are more intense, sensitive, and impulsive. Some children can concentrate and like to sit still. Others are easily distracted and are always moving. It’s not helpful to wish your child were different. It’s important to accept the child you have and discover strategies that work to help YOUR child behave well.
6. You don’t understand why your child makes poor choices
All behaviour happens for a reason, and there is a valid need behind all misbehaviour. Many parents believe that when a child behaves badly, the child is deliberately being naughty, seeking attention or winding them up. This belief causes a lot of parents to get angry. However, it’s not true. A child grows up like an experimenter needing to learn about the world. They learn bad habits because the parents inadvertently reinforce the poor behaviour.
Also, an angry parent models poor behaviour, then expect their child to behave better than they do. However, children learn from the example their parents set.
Poor behaviour can be the result of a child being engrossed, developing poor habits that haven’t been corrected. It can be due to letting their guard down at home, believing parents should make them happy. Alternatively children may make mistakes or find it hard to stay calm when they’re hungry, tired or frustrated.
It could be the child needs the parents’ help to learn self-control. Sometimes they forget how to behave, feel overwhelmed, get over-excited. Or they behave in an immature way because they need help to find the right words to say what they really mean. It could be because the parent hasn’t involved them in setting the rules or helped them establish a good routine. Or perhaps because the child feels bossed around and is reacting badly to feeling controlled.
Change is possible
You don’t have to be an angry parent. Many parents who work with a child behaviour expert are amazed at the improvement in their child’s behaviour when they consistently use gentle, respectful parenting skills. When the parents learn to stay calm and consistently use the best parenting skills the child’s behaviour changes.
There are so many valid reasons children behave badly. When a parent can truly understand the cause of their child’s poor behaviour, and learn the best way to manage it, family life can be transformed, and parents can stay calm and in control.