Managing Anger at Your Kids

One of the issues I’ve had recently is anger directed toward my son. Until recently, my son and I have got along really well. But now he’s 12, and in middle school. We’ve moved across the country, and he is asserting his independence. There are a number of factors involved in our lives right now, and both of us are adjusting. And there are times that I’m just angry — including feeling angry at my son.

anger

It’s common to feel angry sometimes, and it’s also common to have that anger directed toward our children. We love them, but we also get frustrated. However, the way we feel that anger, and how it manifests toward our children, matters in the long run. I’ve been trying to help my anger take a more productive form lately, and trying to model better behaviors for my son, so that he learns how to handle his anger as well. Here are some of the suggestions I’ve found from Aha! Parenting:

  • Set limits and expectations: The time to set limits and expectations for family behavior is before you get angry. Sometimes we don’t set limits because we don’t know that there will be problems. If that is the issue, note that you need a rule or expectation, and come up with something later, when you are calm. If you already have a limit or expectation, calmly remind your child. Remember that children need to be reminded of things. Their brains are still developing, and sometimes they forget things, or other impulses override control. A calm reminder of the expectation can usually bring children in line.
  • Remove yourself: Sometimes you need to remove yourself from the situation. When I feel things getting heated, I sometimes suggest that my son and I each go to our own rooms to cool off so that we can come back and approach the problem calmly, after thinking about things. This allows us both to stop thinking in black and white terms and start thinking in gray. It gives us a chance to look for more creative solutions.
  • Don’t enforce consequences while angry: Even if you have a consequence for behavior (and as your children age, letting them have a hand in establishing expectations and consequences can be helpful), it’s better not to enforce it while angry. Aha! Parenting suggests pointing out the infraction, and then saying that you need to think about it and that you will talk about it later. You can move on with your day, and then sit down, when you are both calmer, and talk about the problem and the consequence.
  • Find ways to emphasize good behavior: We are also looking into ways to focus more on rewarding good behavior and outcomes, rather than talking in terms of consequences. My husband also does a lot in terms of talking about privileges and responsibility, and offering more as our son proves himself able to handle more. So far it’s helped in our case.

It’s an interesting position to be in, and there are times when I catch myself, and I ask myself why I’m so angry to begin with. In some cases, my anger is more about me than it is about my son. Acknowledging that and stepping back goes a long way.

What do you do to handle anger with your kids?

About the Author

Miranda is a freelance writer and professional blogger. See more of her writing at MirandaMarquit.com. Her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger is available from Amazon.