Parenting is hard work; your are pushed to hone the skills of negotiation, patience, courage, and resilience everyday.
I like this metaphor “Parenting is like trying to stand up in a hammock and not spill your lemonade.”
Parents and children are stressed more than ever right now.
Parenting is a emotional roll coaster ride of ups and downs. We are not meant to do this alone and always need support. So I will always be a life long learner and share the latest research, as well as my experience being a mom of 4 and working with kids and parents tips to manage emotions smarter.
Having a better relationship with our emotions is key to less stress, connection with our children and improves our wellbeing (physical and emotional health)
Tips from Aha Parenting on what to do when your child is angry:
- Keep yourself from moving into “fight or flight” by taking a few deep breaths and reminding yourself that there’s no emergency. This models emotional regulation and helps your child feel safer, so she doesn’t feel scared, which makes her fight harder.
- Listen. Try to see it from his point of view. Often, when people don’t feel heard, they escalate. By contrast, when your child feels understood, he’ll begin to feel calmer — even when he doesn’t get his way.
- Acknowledge the anger, and the upset underneath it. The more compassionate you can be, the more likely your child will find his way to the tears and fears under the anger: “Oh, Sweetie, I’m sorry this is so hard…You’re saying I never understand you… that must feel so terrible and lonely.” You don’t have to agree, and you don’t have to disagree. Just acknowledge his truth in the moment. Once he feels heard, his truth will shift.
- Don’t get hooked by rudeness and personal attacks. Parents are often hurt when children yell at them. But your child doesn’t actually hate you, or want a new mom or dad, or whatever she’s yelling. She feels hurt and scared and powerless, so she’s pulling out the most upsetting thing she can think of, so you’ll know how upset she is. Just say “Ouch! You must be so upset to say that to me. I wonder if you’re saying the worst thing in the world, so I will know how upset you are. Tell me why you’re upset. I’m listening.”
Your child is not “behaving badly” or “winning.” She’s showing you in the best way she can at the moment just how upset she is. As she realizes that she doesn’t have to raise her voice or go on the attack to be heard, she’ll develop the capacity to express her feelings more appropriately.
- Set whatever limits are necessary to keep everyone safe, while acknowledging the anger and staying compassionate. “You’re so mad! Tell me in words! Or stomp to show me how mad you are. No hitting, no matter how upset you are — hitting hurts.”
What about other limits? Now is not the time to get your kid to clean up whatever he just threw onto the floor in anger. It’s also not the time to insist that he apologize for his tone or rude words. First, help him calm down. Then re-connect. After that, he’ll WANT to repair.
- If your child is already in a full meltdown, don’t talk except to empathize and reassure her that she’s safe. Don’t try to teach, reason or explain. When she’s awash in adrenaline and other fight or flight reactions is not the time to explain why she can’t have what she wants, or get her to admit that she actually loves her little sister. Your only job now is to calm the storm. Just acknowledge how upset she is: “You are so upset about this… I’m sorry it’s so hard. I’m right here.”
- Remind yourself that tantrums are nature’s way of helping immature brains let off steam. Children don’t yet have the frontal cortex neural pathways to control themselves as we do. (And please note that we don’t always regulate our anger very well, even as adults!) The best way to help children develop those neural pathways is to offer empathy to them any time they’re upset. It’s ok — good, actually — for your child to express those tangled, angry, hurt feelings. After we support kids through a tantrum, they feel closer to us and more trusting. They feel less wound-up inside, so they can be more emotionally generous. They aren’t as rigid and demanding. (This is called emptying the emotional backpack).
- Remember that anger is a defense against threat. It comes from our “fight, flight or freeze” response. We often overreact as if our child is a threat because we’re carrying around old emotions like hurt, fear or sadness, and whatever’s happening in the moment triggers those old feelings. In other words, your angry child really is not actually a threat to your safety or well-being. Just notice if you feel like they are, and reassure yourself that you’re safe and you have the power to manage the situation constructively.
Your human, and going to have bad days and struggles. You are going to lose it at times as parenting is hard and a emotional roll coaster of ups and down. It does not mean you are a bad parent.
Have self-compassion and forgive ourselves when we lose it or yell at times. The most important thing to do is reboot and model resilience to your child after both have calm down.
If your moody or grumpy acknowledge it and let your child know what your planning to do to wok it out. May sound something like this:
“I’m moody today, I’m going for a walk (go call a friend, splash your face, listen to music)”
Tips To apologize if you yell or lose your temper: We may feel uncomfortable to apologize to our children but it is the best way to model resilience skills, how to apologize, and how to repair a relationship after hurtful words or actions.
The most important words to any relationship are “I love you. I hear you. I’m sorry”
“Sorry, Honey, I didn’t mean to snap at you. Let me try that again. Here’s what I meant to say…”
Next time, I will stop, breathe, to calm down”
“I had such a hard day; everything at work was hard. And then you were having a hard time calming down and I got frustrated, I was at the end of my rope so I yelled at you. But that’s no excuse. No one deserves to be yelled. When we get mad, it’s our job to express our feelings without attacking the other person, and yelling is an attack. I’m sorry.”
Here are some of the benefits of doing this:
- Struggles and bad moods are part of life and you are modeling to your kids it’s ok to have those days
- Your child is made aware that your mood is not about them, you love them but you are human and struggle time to time to
- You model self-awareness which children struggle with and 1st step to any behavior change to manage emotions healthier
- You model resilience and the use of coping skills to transform stress in healthier ways
- Your child has an opportunity to practice empathy and compassion which is the KEY to connection and stronger relationships and friendships.
In my Thrive in EQ program I support parents in diving deeper with these tips as well as help kids practice managing their anger in healthier ways. If you would like to schedule a free Discovery 1:1 reply to email