Dealing with Frustration: How to Control Your Parental Anger

There are days when parenting a toddler seems like a very high risk job. Very high risk of losing your temper. Even the most level-headed parents can find themselves struggling to control their anger when their toddlers are misbehaving.

Well, you are not alone. There are millions of parents who are frustrated and dealing with parental anger every single day.

Let’s find out why toddlers seem like creatures from a different planet who are sometimes so hard to understand. These are their characteristics:

  • They love to say “NO!” because they just found out they can actually be a decision maker.
  • They are learning to do things without help, but get frustrated very easily.
  • Their language skills are developing, yet not skilled enough to convey complex messages.
  • They are very strong-willed and everything is “MINE!”
  • Very active with short attention span.
  • They like to challenge authority, because they are developing their own sense of autonomy.

The other day, my two year old daughter just found out that she could have so much fun playing with a string of faux pearls. She played with it for almost an hour. She refused to have lunch, and she was close to missing her nap time. She was wet and didn’t want to be changed. Those are recipe for disaster. She would be hungry, tired, and miserable.

After the fifth “Five more minutes of playing. OK?” I had to put my foot down. What followed next was close to a scene from Gladiator movie when they fight for their lives at The Colosseum.

Screams. More screams. And kicks. And throwing self to the ground. And cries. And claws. And tears. I never thought a toddler could put up a fight like a soldier. She was definitely so determined to wrestle me and find her way out of the room.

I was angry. I was frustrated. I lost my temper.

It was so very hard to control my emotions. Anger, confusion, frustration, and sadness were like a tornado inside of me. On top of that I had a mission to accomplish: to put her to nap so she could get the needed rest.

In the end, she finally fell asleep on my chest, but the earlier struggle with her left a bitter aftertaste. It got me thinking that I have to learn to manage my parental anger.

I felt that I became a monster to her. That was not a good feeling at all. She woke up cheerful and all--God bless toddlers, their big heart, and their short memory; and I apologized to her for being rough with her earlier.

Everything was fine in the end, but this is something that I need to improve.

Based on Ask Dr. Sears, there are couple of things we can do to deal with parental anger:

  1. Heal Your Angry Past. I was quite a hothead when I was younger, but I mellowed so much over the years. I don’t see myself as an angry person anymore. Dr. Sears mentioned that “If your child sees a chronically angry face and hears an angry voice, that’s the person he is more likely to become.” So, we need to understand more about ourselves to enable us to be better parents.
  2. Keep Your Perspective. The cycle of parental anger usually goes like this: mad at child, then mad at self, then more mad at child for causing you to get mad at yourself, then mad at being mad. Try our best to break the cycle. A time out to calm yourself down maybe needed so the anger doesn't escalate to fury.
  3. Make Parental Anger Your Ally. Instead of not liking it when your child whine and misbehave, aim to find the source of it. Maybe they are tired, hungry, bored, or sick. Dr. Sears explains that “Healthy parental anger compels you to fix the problem, first because you’re not going to let your child’s behavior go uncorrected, and second because you don’t like how the child’s misbehavior bothers you. This is helpful parental anger."
  4. Quit Beating Yourself Up. Things happen. Anger happens. Frustration happens. But the ability to reflect upon what triggers the anger can be a good opportunity to learn and help us to diffuse future flares-up. Anger is part of human emotions, and nobody's perfect.
  5. Beware of High-Risk Situations that Trigger Anger. Problems at work, arguments with family members, tired from doing daily chores. All can cause you to have a short fuse. Remember not to direct your frustration towards your children. The only thing in your life that you can control are your own actions. How you handle anger can work for you OR against you—and your child.

The next time my fuse about to explode, I need to take a deep breath or leave the room to readjust my perspective and to keep my cool. Besides, our children depend on us to be good role models on how to deal with anger.

Do you have any tips how to control your anger?


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