A wailing, stubborn child or a child hounding you for one more lollipop or toy! How are you, as a parent to remain calm when your children are driving you crazy? It’s natural to lose it and shout. But then, you also need to deal with a child who is hurt, upset and angry himself. And losing your temper can actually make the situation harder to deal with.
Let’s look at common causes of parental anger.
- Lack of sleep: From the time you wake up, you are constantly on the move, either to get the kids ready for school, and yourself for work etc. As a parent, you must look after your children and yourself as well, which is often forgotten. When you push yourself on a few hours of rest, your body fights back and even the slightest thing can make you angry.
Taking time out for yourself, like a longer bath, having coffee with a friend, or just some time to unwind can help. And if you cant find the time to unwind, learning to plan your day can help.
- Stress: You have many things going on in your life and the stress of life gets to you, making you irritable and moody. For example, you may have aged parents that need looking after or an important meeting at work that you need to prepare for, however your kids need you as well for homework. It’s impossible to do all at the same time without seeing red.
Recognise your stressors, and learn to delegate. Getting help from your spouse, nanny, friends etc. can help considerably.
- Expectations: It is common to find parents having high expectations of their children. When children don’t live up to your expectations it can make you angry. For example, you get upset when your child scores low in a school examination.
When you are in this situation, step back and look at your child’s interests and aptitude. Nurturing your child’s dreams and accepting them for who they are, is healthier.
- Spousal frustration: It’s common to be angry with your partner, especially when it comes to parenting style, household chores, sharing of finances etc. This often comes out on the children when they act out.
It’s good to tell your children or your partner how you feel. It shows them a better way to manage their anger too. Example, ‘I’m feeling angry. I need to go out to calm down before we talk about this’.
- Other emotions: Often times it is one’s own feeling of inadequacy, fear or helplessness that is manifested as anger. After an extended meeting at work, you may already be feeling guilty for not having spent time with your child, but when your little one complains about how late you are – the guilt quickly turns into anger. Or when your sick child is crying in pain but refuses to take the medicines – helplessness turns to anger!
At such times it helps to focus on the child’s need for comfort, affection and attention and separate it from one’s own feelings of being a failure. Take a deep breath, think about what the child needs and try to provide that and you will see that your own feelings of helpless frustration and anger will also dissipate.
Constant anger towards children puts a strain on the relationship and make them either act out more or withdraw. It affects their self-esteem. Ultimately, children learn how to handle life’s situations from their parents. If you get angry fast and react negatively they will also learn the same.
If you are finding it difficult to discipline your child without losing your cool, or find the above factors coming in the way of your parenting, do contact a counsellor for personalised assistance.