Parenting is hard work. This past week I had a few hard days. One of them included screaming children for a good majority of the day- the preschooler was yelling and kicking me and the toddler was miserable and teething.
Despite the situation, I ended up being a "good" parent that day. I responded as best as I could (positively), dealt with the behaviors, kept my cool, and survived. I contrasted that to other days when I have had similar experiences with the kids and I've lost my temper, yelled back, and just felt out of control and really angry.
I wondered what made the difference in my attitude on that day and I decided to make a list of ways that I have learned to deal with my own anger as a parent. I'm hoping that maybe my ideas can help other parents as well. None of them are really new ideas, but they are good reminders for me on rough days.
Eight Ways to Deal with Anger as Parent:
1. Recognize you can't control others, you can only control your response to them.
Be positive. Set limits if needed. Recognize what is in your sphere of influence and what is not.
For example, I can't control that my toddler is teething and up all night. I can control how I act when she is screaming. 🙂
2. Choose to look for the good.
Being nit picky or focusing too much on what your child is doing that is annoying you will make you more frustrated.
For example, if your child keeps saying, "No mommy" or hitting a sibling, instead of saying, "don't tell me no" or "stop hitting," think of what you want your child to be doing instead and tell them. Sometimes we forget that kids are just kids and they are still learning. Often we tell them what not to do... but they don't know what to do.
3. Give yourself a time out.
Remove yourself from the situation. When my daughter was first born, my son would have terrible tantrums. I would pick the baby up and say to him, "Mommy needs a time out. I'm worried I might say something mean to you. I am going to go upstairs for a few minutes to my room to cool down." I would leave our bedroom door open so that I could see/hear my son, but I would remove myself from the rage and take some deep breaths. It really helped me calm down and be able to better deal with his behavior in a positive way.
4. Get plenty of sleep and eat well. A diet coke and chocolate bar doesn't count. 🙂
This is the hardest thing for me, but the thing that I notice impacts my ability to cope the most.
5. Exercise regularly.
I have recently started running a few mornings a week at 6:30am with some friends (without kids). I have such a better attitude to start the day and deal with any problems that arise because I have gotten my exercise in. If an afternoon is hard, we often grab the stroller and go for a jog. It is amazing how quickly moods change when we are working out.
6. Pray, meditate, or seek inspiration.
I pray every day that I will have patience with my kids. I also pray that I will know how to be a good parent. During the hardest parts of the day, saying a quick prayer can help me get an instant boost. Sometimes I just sneak in the bathroom and lock the door and go to the bathroom by myself! The quiet moment alone sometimes helps me chill out.
7. Ask for help.
On our worst day this week, I sent my husband an SOS and asked if he could come home thirty minutes early. It is rare that I ask him to do that, but I needed a break. He responded by doing exactly that AND making me a special treat when he got home. His arrival cheered my son up too and changed the mood at our house. I was so grateful!
8. Spend time with friends or family who are supportive.
When a day is looking like it is going downhill, I love to send a quick text to friends and have them meet us at the park for a playdate. It is amazing how your perspective changes and how easier it is to not take things your kid's do personally when you are surrounded by other supportive friends.
(Printable Version of Eight Ways to Deal with Anger as a Parent)
Do you ever find it hard to keep your cool as a parent?
How do you deal with anger?
I would love to learn from your experiences and wisdom. I have only been a parent for four years now, so I know I still have a lot to learn and many more years to work at becoming a better parent! Please share any tips or advice in the comments below.
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