Most parents have dealt with their children becoming angry when things don’t go their way. Even as adults, don’t we get upset when things don’t go our way? The difference is that we, as adults, can handle being upset about a change of expectations better than a child can. This is because a child is still learning how to behave and that learning is done by watching us, the parents. It can be easy to forget that your child is still a child when she continues to come up with very complex arguments in order to get what she wants. A human brain does not reach its peak power until the age of 22. From the ages of 7-22 the prefrontal cortex is still maturing and this part of the brain involves impulses and decision making. This means that fits of anger are going to occur. This also means that bad decisions are going to occur. This is how they learn! It can be difficult for us to stay calm and loving when our children are yelling at us, but it is necessary to respond to their anger with love in order to teach our children how to deal with their anger. Here are 6 tips to help you handle those anger outbursts with love and grace. Your child is watching and learning from your reaction so stay mindful!
1. Stop and realize how you are feeling. Are you angry? Hurt? Irritated? Remain quiet and witness your feelings coming up as your child yells, screams or slams doors. This moment of stepping back and becoming the observer will help disintegrate your reaction feeling of anger or hurt. I know this can be hard, especially if your daughter or son is screaming “I hate you!”, but believe me that reacting to your child with the lower emotion he or she is having is only going to make the situation worse. Your child is watching how you are going to react. The ego of your child will want you to feed the anger, but you are the adult and you are responsible for teaching your child that is okay to feel the anger, but it is not okay to react from anger. So take 90 seconds to sit and feel what you are feeling. The more you do this the easier it becomes!
2. Respond from the Heart. After those 90 seconds of observing your feelings, take a few deep breathes and decide how you want to react. Your ego will still try to influence you to react by matching your child’s energy. Say “No!” to your ego and go with what your higher self is asking you to do. Your higher self knows to respond in a calm and peaceful manner. You can say, “I am seeing that you are really angry. Let’s stop for a moment and discuss how we can help you move from angry to calm. Let me help you feel better.” Listen to your child as he tells you why he is angry. Don’t give advice. Be there to provide a safe place to let your child show his emotions. At a later time you can teach your child phrases and actions to take in order to calm himself down. One phrase I like to say to myself and I teach kids to use is, “I am feeling angry and that is perfectly okay.” Saying this helps you become more of the observer of the emotion and less of being the emotion. This can also be used with other emotions as well.
3. Stay consistent every time your child has an outburst. This is very important! If you react in a different way every time, then your child will not take you seriously and will learn that staying calm is too hard of a reaction and will continue to always have angry outbursts.
4. Give a consequence for the reaction, but not the feeling. Sometimes a consequence is not needed, but If your child disrespects you by calling you names or saying hateful things, then the child should get a consequence, such as no T.V. or IPAD for a day. Make sure the child knows the consequence is because of the disrespect and not the anger. Let your child know that it is okay to have the feelings we have, but it is not okay to hurt others with our reactions to our feelings.
5. Put aside time for you to have quiet time by yourself. Take a few minutes of meditation time each day. This will train your mind to remain calm and focused no matter what the energy is of others around you. It is also helpful to teach your kids to have a daily meditation time as well. Meditation is proven to help with emotional regulation.
6. Find a trusted mentor or Life Coach. Sometimes parents and kids need someone to talk to and learn from besides each other. This is okay. As parents we are here to guide and keep our children safe while letting them learn life lessons. Sometimes children are more likely to open up and listen to other adults that they trust.