There’s no denying that with all the joys of parenthood there can also be a lot of stress and frustration.
Temper tantrums, complaints and demands… It’s understandable this would try any parent’s patience.
And sometimes the result is an angry outburst.
But unfortunately anger directed towards your child can have a very negative impact on your relationship with them and on their own temperament.
And it can also encourage more acting out or misbehaving.
So how can we better manage our own emotions when it comes to parenting challenges?
Mike Fisher is a UK anger-management specialist who runs courses for parents dealing with these kinds of problems.
While he often works with more extreme instances of anger, his ideas hold universally.
Fisher claims that the most common source of anger in parents is their children’s ongoing lack of cooperation. Something he largely blames on ‘information overload’.
He says that kids are consumed by their exposure to a constant barrage of digital media and information, and the instant gratification that comes with it distracts them from being ‘present’.
This in turn makes them less able to listen, engage and cooperate, and Fisher sees parents getting angrier about it every year.
So how do we stop ourselves from letting our frustrations boil over into angry outbursts?
Here are his top tips:
- Communicate. Give your child an idea of what you’re going through. Let them know why you’re frustrated with them, and how it affects you in other ways. This is what Fisher calls ‘clean anger’.
- Apologise — if and when you do get angry. You expect the same from your children, so lead by example.
- Listen more. Being a parent doesn’t make you infallible, and sometimes they may have a valid point that you have missed.
- Keep an anger journal. It’s a way of getting your negative emotions out, without directing them at your kids. It might even be an idea to track how things improve or get worse depending on your response to bad behaviour.
- Get support. Reach out to friends, family, or a professional. Anger is isolating and, particularly when it comes to your own children, it can bring up feelings of shame and guilt. But anger is a normal emotion, and in no way are you the only parent experiencing it.
Please feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss these issues further with one of our psychologists.
When it comes to the challenges of parenting, you’re not the only one, and you’re not alone.