Managing Parental Anger

Managing Parental Anger

Picture of Meri Wallace
Meri Wallace

Meri Wallace, LCSW, a parenting expert and child and family therapist for over thirty years, grew up in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Meri completed her Masters degree in Social Work at NYU, specializing in child development. Meri writes a blog for “Psychology Today”, and is the author of “Birth Order Blues” (Henry Holt and Co.) and “Keys to Parenting Your Four Year Old” (Barron's Educational Series.) She has been a columnist for Sesame Street Parents, New York Family Magazine,and Brooklyn Parent and has been a consultant to Children’s Television Workshop. She is frequently interviewed by national publications including Newsweek, Cosmopolitan, and Parents Magazine.

Stay calm and protect your child’s self-esteem

It is normal for parents to feel angry at their kids. Children’s behavior is very difficult to manage and can easily drive you crazy. But, the goal is to control your anger and deal with your child calmly, so you won’t harm his self-esteem. Here are some steps you can take to manage your anger.

Take a deep breath or count to 10 before you react. Your child’s behavior might be very disturbing to you, but it is essential to take a few moments to search for positive words to communicate your message. If your child keeps pulling the cat’s tail, instead of yelling at him, say, “We love the cat. We do not hurt the cat or anyone in the family.”

Stepping out of the room for a few moments can also help you manage your behavior. If you feel enraged and sense that you might say or do something harmful to your child find a way to leave without making him feel abandoned. You can tell him,“I need a minute. I’ll be right back.” or “I have to go to the bathroom.” This break can lower the intensity of the dispute.

Determine why you are so angry, for instance, maybe your older sister was mean to you and it makes you upset to see your child behave the same way to a sibling. If you can verbalize, your feelings, for instance,“It’s hard for me to see you hurt your sister. My sister was very hard on me.” it will help you calm down and build bridges with your child.

Apologize to your child if you realize you did not come across positively. Many parents fear that this admission diminishes their parental role. On the contrary. It sends a strong message that you are human, and expect responsible familial behavior.

Learn all you can about child development. You might find out that your child keeps returning to a light socket after you said no, because developmentally children are born curious. Knowing a developmental motivator can help you to be more accepting and less quick to anger.

Consider seeking professional help if you find yourself feeling angry all the time and responding aggressively. It’s not unusual for old unresolved issues to rise to the surface when you start your own family.