How To Control Your Temper When Your Child Misbehaves?
Created by Nandini Muralidharan Updated on Dec 16, 2018
Shivani, mother of three-year-old Pia, was often given to outbursts of anger that seemed to be triggered at the drop of a hat. And when Shivani was angry, it was all irrational yelling at her child and power struggles. The one day when Shivani was on the phone speaking to her boss about a missed deadline, she saw Pia trying to religiously stuff raisins into the sofa cushion, and she lost it. She shouted angrily at Pia, to the point where Pia was sobbing and saying "Mama I'm scared. I'm sorry." This was the turning point in Shivani's life. She realized that unrelated stress was making her misdirect her anger at Pia all the time.
This isn't an uncommon situation in parenting. A parent will feel angry for various reasons, and anger can be healthy, too. Because when you don't express it, bottling it up can only lead to bitterness and resentment. However, what is not healthy is constant blowing up and yelling, or taking your anger towards something else on your child. And equally important, is realizing that more often than not, your child's "misbehavior" is just childish behavior. It isn't a personal affront to you, and it isn't meant to turn into a power struggle. Read on to find out how you can channel your anger when your child misbehaves.
Why Do We Have Angry Outbursts When A Child Misbehaves?
Let's look at Shivani's example – she was on the phone, speaking to her boss about something that had obviously gone wrong at work. The stress, the anger and the anxiety were related to work. Shivani was going through a difficult time at work, with lay-offs and pay-cuts. She couldn't afford any missed deadlines, and she was afraid of losing her job. So this anxiety translated into anger when Pia did something that all children do. Yes, when a child does something that isn't acceptable in a situation, a parent must correct her. But an emotional outburst is hardly going to do the trick. Here are some reasons why a parent has these outbursts.
- Stress due to work/external factors: Like Shivani, many of us have stressful jobs. Dealing with work, along with childcare and everything else we are expected to juggle can be overwhelming, and really take its toll
- Relationships: If you're having a rough patch with your partner, or you're going through a separation, it can be the root of your anxiety and bitterness. Similarly, if you have a difficult relationship with someone very close, like a parent or a sibling, then it can lead to stress
- Depression: If you have depression that you haven't addressed, anger can be a frequent emotion you feel
- Power struggles: Often, a parent can feel as if the child is misbehaving just to push his buttons. Taking it personally means that you're probably just going to assert more power on your child, resulting in an unpleasant tussle
Identifying what is making you angry is the first step towards controlling your temper, and channeling that energy positively.
How To Control Your Temper When Your Child Misbehaves?
While yes, it is important to put a finger on why you're actually yelling at your child, it is equally important to correct your child's behavior if it is unacceptable or causing harm to him, others or property. However, it does matter how you do this. Here are some tips to help you keep your temper in check when your child misbehaves.
Deep breathing:Sounds clichéd? It does work! When you find your child testing your limits, just remove yourself from the physical space for a minute (make sure he's out of harm's way if he was engaged in something dangerous) and just breathe.
- Tell him you need a minute and take deep breaths. While you're breathing, reinforce positive messages to yourself – "this isn't so bad, I can deal with it." "he's just a child, he will learn that it isn't correct." "I love my little boy; I was just worried about him being hurt"
- All these will help you calm down before you go and address the issue with your child
- Be calm, but firm: When you're down to talking to your child about what he did, talk in a low, calm voice that doesn't waver or express emotion.
- Tell him what was wrong with the behavior so that he knows why you are angry. Your child needs to know that his behavior caused displeasure, and why it isn't acceptable
- This way, your child will see that while you're angry, you respect him and think that he has it in him to correct his behavior
- Have a plan: Ask yourself what are the "small" and "big" things that make you flare up? And plan how you will react. This isn't easy, and when faced with a real situation, things can get out of control. But with practice, you can remain calm in the face of a hurricane. For e.g. if you get angry when your child starts pulling things out of the shelves at the supermarket, make a plan before you leave. Will you head back to the car immediately? Will you take her outside and explain? Being prepared, whenever possible, helps you respond instead of react
Address other stress factors: This is one of the most important things you will do to manage your anger better.
- Find out what's making you angry and bitter (see above – Why Do We Have Angry Outbursts) and address it
- You will find that more often than not, the real reason for the anger lies somewhere else. It is important to not let that affect your behavior with your child
It's not personal: Remember that your child is just being a child.
- When you start to think that it's personal is when it can trigger anger. And don't stress out about others judging you when your child misbehaves
- Another parent is probably just looking at you in the supermarket and thinking "I know how you're feeling now" and perhaps "Phew it's not my turn today." What she's not likely to be thinking is – "You are such a bad parent for just letting your child pull stuff out like that"
- What's even better is, you don't need to care even if she is thinking that. You are a parent who's doing your best, and these childish behaviors from your child are absolutely normal!
Anger is a part of parenting, or any relationship. What you do with your anger has a big impact on your relationship with your child. So take a deep breath, and tell yourself that you can get through this. Happy Parenting!
How do you control your temper when your child misbehaves? Share your tips with us in the comments section!
| Nov 09, 2017
absolutely amazing tips! yes children do become the soft target and our frustration does get a vent by shouting on them.. but we need to stop and introspect, do they deserve it actually?was their behavior really this bad for them to go through this. I am sure this blog would lead us parents to ponder over our behavior .... and correct it if need be..
| Nov 15, 2017
my son will b complete 4 yr in this December.. from last 1 week suddenly I throw lots of anger on him ..n hit him two three times .it's effects him a lot.. he got fear of mine n feeling less confident .i m really sorry about my this mistake. how I erase this from his mind. please suggest
| Apr 12, 2018
my daughter is 7 yrs old and she is very talkative n excellent in story making even demanding things n very argumentive too even always complainting about small things n even agressive when we deny n say NO, plz help admin or respective community WHT SHOULD I DO?
| May 17, 2018
As a parent I was searching for this, cos I used to yell at her... I feel pity on her and myself that I tell at a 1 yr old ... But now situation changed... The thing that changed me is my thought, and understanding that she doesn't understand if I keep yelling, really but do understand a firm NO ... and also they r kids and kids are naughty and if they don't do it now, then what they will do in our age!!! So let them be ( just keep the safety standards so that u don't have to tell no no no always) But the article could improve a lot, yes from those usual cleches as u have said!!!