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How to keep your cool when your kids lose theirs!

12 January
Posted by:
Michael Grose

No matter how well-behaved your kids or how placid and patient we there are time when we all lose our cool and blurt out some remarks we’d just love to take back.

If the results of a recent US survey hold true then it seems that yelling at kids is one of the biggest sources of parental guilt that there is.

The authors of “Mommy Guilt: Learn to worry less, focus on what matters and raise happier kids” commissioned a survey of 1,300 American parents to determine what made them feel guilty. A whopping two-thirds of respondents nominated yelling at their kids as their main source of parental guilt.

I suspect the figures would be fairly similar in Australia.

Most parents these days admit it’s socially unacceptable to smack, but many are bereft of what to do in its’ place to get cooperation or deal with kids who behave poorly. When time out, nagging, reminding and pleading don’t work do we resort to yelling to get some attention?

So what do you do if you have blown your top and given your children an absolute verbal blast with steam coming out of both your ears?

First, check that your rare outburst of anger is just that – rare. If you are always angry or over-reacting then this is a fair sign that all is not right with you. I don’t want to state the bleeding obvious, but constant sudden outbursts of anger are a sign that all is not right with the world.

It may mean taking a break, getting some additional help with your kids or even getting some professional counselling to sort out internal or relationship issues.

If your outburst is rare rather than pathological then the best response is to show your children that you are human and apologise. Put a little time between your outburst and your apology and consider giving an explanation. “Sorry about yelling at you guys. I have been working so hard lately. I guess I need a break.”

No need to grovel, just reveal your human side to your family. Your children will take their cues from you and will more than likely talk on an emotional level if they see you go to the same space. Revealing your vulnerability gives children permission to reveal theirs.

Check your anger levels

It is a good anger management practice to check your own anger levels from time to time. When you know you are under stress and feel yourself about to blow your top- take a break, phone someone up (and vent your spleen, if possible), or just to count to 20 (or 100) before you blow your stack unnecessarily to your kids.

There is a place for parent anger in the discipline process – as long as it is controlled. There are the times when children really need to know they have crossed a line and your whole voice and attitude needs to convey that their behaviour is unacceptable.

Most parents will know the type of response I am referring to. The voice goes steely and the words come out purposefully. Eye contact is strong and body language is direct.

The kids aren’t frightened. They just know that that their mum or dad means what they say! Gulp!

It is the type of response that should be saved for times when children put each other down unmercilessly, or when they show gross disrespect to themselves, others or their environment.

We all want to steer clear from angry responses when we interact with those we love. But being human means that our behaviour doesn’t always reach the lofty heights that we would like, and at times we lose our cool.

So recognise the signs of pending anger and take steps to manage it, and if you do lose the plot, reveal your vulnerability and apologise. Nothing wrong with that!

For more ideas to get cooperation from kids without shouting visit

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