Parents who use anger in managing their children's behavior might notice fast results, but constantly using anger as a strategy to mold your child's conduct can weaken the bond between parent and child. Save yourself the emotional stress by taking a less angry route in dealing with your child’s less desirable actions.
Understanding the Roots of Behavior
Just as your natural reaction to your child’s misconduct might be to become upset, your child’s natural reaction to her own emotions might be to hit, yell, or act out in other ways. By understanding where your child’s emotions come from, you will be more prepared to develop a strategy for dealing with such behaviors. Once you realize that most of your child's actions stem from a lack of emotional control, you will find it harder to get angry. After all, as clinical psychologist Haim G. Ginott points out in his book "Between Parent and Child," you can't blame a child for being childish. However, you can explain a better way for your child to express her emotions.
Sometimes insults naturally follow anger. Some parents may call their children lazy or stubborn. As a parent, you should do what you can to avoid using such labels. Children, especially young children, tend to believe almost anything parents say. If you habitually degrade your children in spontaneous moments of anger, they may begin to believe they really are lazy or unmanageable. The end result might be a self-fulfilling prophecy, making it harder for mom and dad to correct the child's misconduct. Instead, parents should speak in terms of specific actions to let a child know what the problem is.
Putting Your Child’s Interests First
In many cases, parental anger is agenda-based. That is, parents get upset when children are interfering with what parents want. For example, a mother of a teen may get upset when she finds out her daughter spent her allowance on frivolous things. This is an example of a mom wanting her daughter to uphold a family value, such as being responsible with money. But parents who put their children's interests before their own can indirectly help children learn those values. The original purpose of an allowance might have been to show a teen how easy it is to spend money; the parents may have originally known their daughter would sometimes waste her allowance. Parents should remember the original point of such activities to avoid emotional outbursts.
Prevention of misconduct can help you avoid feelings of anger. Make sure you've set clear limits for behaviors. By discussing with your children how certain actions are unproductive expressions of certain emotions, you let them know what's unacceptable. When a child has a lapse of control and crosses a limit, be aware that this is part of being a child, and then discuss the problem with the child. Because you have already set up limits, you need not get angry -- you only need to remind him of the rules. Then focus the meat of the conversation on finding a better way to handle a negative emotion.
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