Children, as the saying rightly goes, can really push your buttons! Despite the unimaginable depths of your love for them, or perhaps because of it, you may be unprepared for the intensity of anger you may also experience.
Even though it is unnerving and often shocking, it is absolutely normal to find yourself at your wit’s end. Frustration is a subtle emotion that bubbles under the surface, almost all the time.
What accentuates these feelings are the mounting pressures of life: work appointments we’re late to, things we’ve missed out until the last moment, health and financial worries, and also, unresolved childhood/personal issues.
In the middle of that stress, enter our child, who has lost her favorite hair band, suddenly remembered he needs Jam sandwiches for a school today, is teasing her little sister, or is downright quarrelsome. And we just go snap.
We all have our outbursts! It is only human, to blow up. But, by learning to be aware of our anger, and cultivate healthier ways to express it, you can reduce the number of times, you ‘lose it’. Of Course, it may take some time to learn to overcome the fits of rage, and trust us on this one, a little management can tighten the bond you develop with those little triggers you call your child.
Understand the emotion
Anger is a strong emotion, that evokes a lot of negativity. So, we often tend to avoid anger, brush it under the carpet, or bottle it up. That is mostly, the mistake we all tend to make. Through experience, you may have noticed that your anger only makes things worse, with your children. Expressing anger may have only caused pain and anguish to you and those around.
Much to your surprise, anger, can actually improve a situation or a relationship. If expressed the right way. For this, you need to understand your anger, in order to develop a more positive view towards the emotion.
Understanding the Tree structure of Anger – How does anger grow?
Imagine the structure of a tree. And let us map that to anger.
- roots (the underlying causes).
- a trunk (your expression of your anger)
- fruit (the results of your anger which can form the seeds to a new anger tree)
As they call it, the ROOT cause
A growing child can give you all the causes! Even under the best of circumstances, parenting is hard work. Sometimes, what makes you angry, about your child’s behaviour, may in fact be a very mundane and normal part of his growing up, but yet challenging to deal with nonetheless. For Instance, your 15-month-old decides to cling to you, just when you have to attend a very important work call, online. Or your three-year-old, who decides to throw a fit, just as you approach the billing counter, with a whole lot of groceries.
Sometimes, you tend to overlook these small incidences, at other times, the same incident, can get to you! As parents, you often go into auto mode and don’t reflect on how you are feeling.
This would be the right time to ask yourself a few quick questions.
Are you tired? You may need to slow down.
Are you feeling a little low? A Quick chat or coffee with the best friend should help
Are you just plain bored? Maybe a quick swim or session at the gym, can activate that dormant adrenaline.
Are you worried, that the onlookers in the store, may think you’re spoiling the child, by ignoring or giving in to the tantrum, and hence you yell at the child, under that pressure to show your authority?
Are you turning in your adult pressures onto the child because somewhere you know they cannot give it back to you?
Self-reflection could help nip the root causes at its root itself. As I have always said, awareness is the key. It’s the start to your growth.
A trunk of Anger and Chaos
The trunk is often the way you express that bubbling anger and bring it to the surface. You yell, scream, shout, shame your children, maybe resort to a whack, get unnecessarily sarcastic. Not only are these expressions damaging to those around you, especially your children. They are equally damaging towards you!
What you need to do here is give yourself a Time out! Yes, a little distancing from the situation, from the children, could help things fall into perspective and help you deal with your emotions. But, not for long. Even a long time out can aggravate the situation and cause more damage.
The Fruits of anger, are never sweet
As you succumb to the wrath of your emotions, those around you bear the fruits. When faced with anger, you children, may eventually shut down, become rebellious, back answer, become aggressive towards someone else, displace their anger in school or at the park, become sad and withdrawn.
These actions may once again trigger your anger, which in turn, continues the endless loop of anger. Remember, most of the times, it is not the action of the child that causes the anger, but your anger is out of your incompetence to handle or manage your little one, or your own circumstances. And you project that anger back at them.
So, how do you manage the Anger tree and arrest its growth?
1. Accept the anger. It’s normal.
2. Look for the underlying causes.
3. Channelize the anger correctly.
4. Evaluate the expectations of your children, and your expectations from them.
5. Concentrate on the essentials – If something is really irrelevant. Let it go.
6. Don’t pretend. Express your emotions in a positive manner.
7. Use Calming techniques.
8. Create a sign language where your kids know, your anger is mounting and they need to give you ‘space’. You could also tell your child, that you’re taking a ‘time out’. This will help the concept register in their minds, and they will learn to deal with their anger issues in the same way. (This will wok wonderfully if your children are above 4 years of age)
9. Apologize. It will only make life between the anger better.
Lastly, getting angry, does not make your love for your tots any lesser. Become a role model, for your children, so as to how you can channelize and win over the wrath. It isn’t easy, but do it.
Your child is a reflection of you, since, you are his primary and first role model. So, they tend to imitate your mannerisms, behavior and also adapt the same traits. So, the next time your child displays anger, or throws a tantrum, watch out for whether the behavior is a mere imitation of how you may have behaved in front of him before. Correct that, and watch them correct himself.
Thank you Veera for choosing me as your Mumma <3