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What to Do When You Lost Your Temper With Your Kids

by Jaimie Zinski

From stress and fighting to the myth of the “perfect” child, parents can lose their cool around their children for many reasons, according to psychologist Kalman Heller, writing at DrHeller.com. Instead of dwelling on your lost temper, learn how to overcome the anger quickly and figure out what you can do to prevent future incidents.

Walk Away

Instead of allowing your anger to escalate, walk away from the circumstance and cool down for five to 10 minutes. If you're alone with the kids, don't hesitate to call a friend or family member over to the home to babysit for a few minutes. If a spouse is available, ask him to intervene, but don't punish the children until you're together and your mind is calmer. During your cool-down period, perform any activity you find relaxing. For example, step outside and take a quiet walk around the neighborhood. Call a friend who makes you laugh and have a conversation. Even shutting yourself in the bathroom and taking several deep, cleansing breaths can help bring you back down to earth. Once you're calm, approach your children and deal with the conflict or troubling circumstance.

Keep an Open Mind

Instead of blowing your top at each small indiscretion or mistake made by your child, pediatrician William Sears, writing at AskDrSears.com, recommends parents gain some perspective on their children's behavior. This process, according to Sears, begins by categorizing your children's typically anger-inducing behavior. For example, is it really nothing more than an annoyance when your toddler constantly pulls at your shirt to get your attention? Does it really warrant blowing your top each time your kids fight over the television remote? Each time you begin to feel yourself becoming angry, take a deep breath and remind yourself that the unwanted behavior exhibited by your child might not be a major deal. According to Sears, learning to control your emotions during these lesser events in your children's life will help you keep your cool when something worse happens in the future.

Say 'I'm Sorry'

For many parents, the anger that was initially directed at their children transforms into anger at themselves for losing control. According to Sears, this cycle occurs in many households, and in many cases it requires therapy and time to understand the deeper meaning behind the anger. However, in the short term, Heller provides parents with a way to make peace with their children after losing their temper. Heller suggests that parents first calm down and tell themselves that it's alright to make this mistake. Once you're composed, apologize to your child and admit you were wrong. Heller also suggests parents ask their children's permission before embracing or kissing them.

Identify Anger Triggers

Instead of continuing the cycle of escalating emotional responses, Sears urges parents to understand and learn what their anger triggers are. For example, some parents are more prone to yell at their children during periods of financial stress or if they're having trouble at work. Instead of losing your temper, and becoming angry at yourself; learn to identify triggers and talk with your children about your mood. For instance, if a parent is suffering through a recent job loss, Sears recommends sitting down with your children to explain that mom and dad are dealing with a big problem and that they need to understand that sometimes one of them will be in a bad mood. During this stressful time, try to remain calm and remind the children that even if you lose your temper, it's not their fault and you'll always love them.

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