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What advice would people give to parents who lose their tempers easily with their kids?
I struggle with this all the time. I have 3 kids of my own, and I nanny other children as well. My husband is gone during working hours, so I’m often alone and overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to get done and the amount of children who rely on me. It’s easy to lose your temper when you feel alone and overwhelmed. I am especially hard on my oldest, as she’s so mature and seems to take things pretty well. Here’s what I’ve learned after 6 years of losing my temper with children.
1. Know Your Boundaries
It’s one thing to raise your voice or get frustrated, but if you’re starting to feel violent, or out of control, leave the room. Slam a door. Bang on a table. Close your eyes and scream with your mouth closed. Seriously, it may startle the kids, but it’s much better than causing anyone harm. Plus you can explain later that there are lots of ways to deal with frustrations and you’re just showing them some examples of how to do that. You could also try picking up something soft like a pillow or stuffed animal and throwing it in the opposite direction from where people are. Sometimes this will break the tension and make everyone laugh.
2. Remember That Kids Are Kids
This is tough for me because my 6-year-old sometimes acts like an adult, but she’s a kid and kids do things that will make you mad. This is a given. It’s okay to be mad and show frustration. But at the end of the day, kids are just exploring their boundaries and looking for you to provide guidance. Understanding that — even in hindsight — is crucial.
3. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
It’s okay to show frustration. It’s hard to control your temper sometimes, and that’s okay. That’s part of being human. There have been many times that I’ve lost my cool, but I always try to use it as a learning tool with my kids. I’ve said things I’ve regretted and raised my voice when I shouldn’t have. Explaining to your kids how you’re feeling, even when it’s after the fact, is actually a healthy way to deal with your emotions and it shows your kid that you’re human too.
4. Apologize If You Were Wrong
This is where I lose some of my guilt. Sometimes I lose it, we all do, but it’s important to know when you are wrong and apologize. At the very least, explain your frustrations, as it is a key part of helping children understand emotions. My kids get frustrated too, so I try to show them how to deal with it in a healthy way. When that doesn’t work, and you end up taking it out on someone, it’s really important to acknowledge that you were wrong and that you may have hurt someone in the process. I’ve had so many conversations with my kids that started with, “I’m sorry I yelled at you. I was having a bad day and was frustrated…” and believe it or not, kids get it! In fact there have been many times when my kids meltdown and they’ll come have the same conversation with me later.
Look, we’re all human and the idea of a parent keeping their cool at all times is just unrealistic. Keeping calm all the time shows your kids that frustration and anger are not normal behaviors and they may struggle with how to deal with those emotions when they feel them. Allowing your kids to see you cry, get mad, even jump up and down with excitement, are all great ways to show by example that we’re all human and not one of us is perfect.
Adrienne Gomer is a mother of three, who’s passionate about parenting, food and exercise. Her writing has been published by Slate and ThoughtCatalog. You can find more Quora posts here:
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