How I Deal With Anger In My Toddler
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Being a mom of an adorable and pretty 3.5 half year old daughter, I know every mom of a toddler has faced the anger management issues among the kids at some point or the other. Although, it’s quite natural, but for the kids to behave in a weird way which we call “Throwing Tantrums”. As everybody feels that it’s just a phase and “it shall pass” soon, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to this kind of behavior because if you don’t, it may create deleterious effects later in their life.
To deal with these “Behavioral Issues” like screaming just for attention seeking kids might embarrass you, or making unreasonable demands, speaking rudely, beating you up or the siblings or many other socially unacceptable acts.
Every mother wants to be perfect in everything. Giving full attention to baby, not spoiling her by any means, spending all the time with her and so on. Often, I even thought of consulting an expert for the best parental advice, but my earnings didn’t allow.
So, like many others, I followed my motherly instinct and it’s been 3 years now and I can proudly say that I have the kid with the best emotional health.
With the help of what I have learnt from my experience, I would like to share a few tips which may help the new moms –
1. Set limits before you get angry.
Often when we get angry at our children, it’s because we haven’t set a limit, and something is grating on us. The minute you start getting angry, it’s a signal to do something. No, not yell. Intervene in a positive way to prevent more of whatever behavior is irritating you.
2. Calm yourself down before you take action.
When you feel this angry, you need a way to calm down. Awareness will always help you harness your self-control and shift your physiology: Stop, Drop (your agenda, just for a minute), and Breathe. That deep breath is your pause button. It gives you a choice. Do you really want to get hijacked by those emotions?
Now, remind yourself that it isn’t an emergency. Shake the tension out of your hands. Take ten more deep breaths.
You might try to find a way to laugh, which discharges the tension and shifts the mood. Even forcing yourself to smile sends a message to your nervous system that there’s no emergency, and begins calming you down. If you need to make a noise, hum. It can help to physically discharge your rage, so you might try putting on some music and dancing.
3. Take Five.
Recognize that an angry state is a terrible starting place to intervene in any situation. Instead, give yourself a timeout and come back when you’re able to be calm. Move away from your child physically so you won’t be tempted to reach out and touch him violently. Just say, as calmly as you can, “I am too mad right now to talk about this. I am going to take a timeout and calm down.”
Exiting does not let your child win. It impresses upon them just how serious the infraction is, and it models self-control. Use this time to calm yourself, not to work yourself into a further frenzy about how right you are.
If your child is old enough to be left for a moment, you can go into the bathroom, splash water on your face, and do some breathing. But if your child is young enough to feel abandoned when you leave, they will follow you screaming. (Even many adult partners will do this. Just saying.)
If you can’t leave your child without escalating their upset, walk to the kitchen sink and run your hands under the water. Then, sit on the couch near your child for a few minutes, breathing deeply and saying a little mantra that restores your calm, like one of these:
• “This is not an emergency.”
• “Kids need love most when they deserve it least.”
• “He’s acting out because he needs my help with his big feelings.”
• “Only love today.”
It’s fine to say your mantra aloud. It’s good role modeling for your kids to see you handle your big emotions responsibly. Don’t be surprised if your child picks up your mantra and starts to use it when he’s angry.
4. Listen to your anger, rather than acting on it.
Anger, like other feelings, is as much a given as our arms and legs. What we’re responsible for is what we choose to do with it. Anger often has a valuable lesson for us, but acting while we’re angry, except in rare situations requiring self-defense, is rarely constructive, because we make choices that we would never make from a rational state. The constructive way to handle anger is to limit our expression of it, and when we calm down, to use it diagnostically: what is so wrong in our life that we feel furious, and what do we need to do to change the situation?
Sometimes the answer is clearly related to our parenting: we need to enforce rules before things get out of hand, or start putting the children to bed half an hour earlier, or do some repair work on our relationship with our child so that she stops treating us rudely. Sometimes we’re surprised to find that our anger is actually at our partner who is not acting as a full partner in parenting, or even at our boss. And sometimes the answer is that we’re carrying around anger we don’t understand that spills out onto our kids, and we need to seek help though counseling or a parents’ support group.
5. Remember that “expressing” your anger to another person can reinforce and escalate it.
Despite the popular idea that we need to “express” our anger so that it doesn’t eat away at us, there’s nothing constructive about expressing anger “at” another person. Research shows that expressing anger while we are angry actually makes us angrier. This in turn makes the other person hurt and afraid, so they get angrier. Not surprisingly, instead of solving anything, this deepens the rift in the relationship.
What’s more, expressing anger isn’t truly being authentic. Anger is an attack on the other person, because you feel so upset inside. True authenticity would be expressing the hurt or fear that’s giving rise to the anger — which you might do with a partner. But with your child, your job is to manage your own emotions, not to put them on your child, so you need to be more measured.
The answer is always to calm yourself first. Then consider what the deeper “message” of the anger is, before you make decisions about what to say and do.
6. WAIT before disciplining.
Make it a point NEVER to act while angry. Nothing says you have to issue edicts on the fly. Simply say something like:
“I can’t believe you hit your brother after we’ve talked about how hitting hurts. I need to think about this, and we will talk about it this afternoon. Until then, I expect you to be on your best behavior.”
Take a 10-minute timeout to calm yourself. Don’t rehash the situation in your mind – that kind of stewing will I make you angrier. Instead, use the techniques above to calm yourself. But if you’ve taken a ten-minute timeout and still don’t feel calm enough to relate constructively, don’t hesitate to put the discussion off:
“I want to think about what just happened, and we will talk about it later. In the meantime, I need to make dinner and you need to finish your homework, please.”
After dinner, sit down with your child and, if necessary, set firm limits. But you will be more able to listen to his side of it, and to respond with reasonable, enforceable, respectful limits to his behavior.
7. Monitor your tone and word choice.
Research shows that the more calmly we speak, the calmer we feel, and the more calmly others respond to us. Similarly, use of swear words or other highly charged words makes us and our listener more upset, and the situation escalates. We have the power to calm or upset ourselves and the person we are speaking with by our own tone of voice and choice of words. (Remember, you’re the role model.)