“My son makes me so angry! I don’t know what I’m going to do with him. I feel like I’m losing my temper with him all the time. How can I keep myself from blowing up at him so much?”
Even the most idealistic parents struggle with taming the frustrations their children evoke. Anyone who paints the picture of parenting as “all peaches and cream” has clearly missed something. As a parent however, it is your duty to model the types of behaviors you ultimately want your children to have. Unfortunately knowing this mandate doesn’t make it any easier. It does, however, help to put an appropriate perspective on how we are to interact with our children.
Here are a couple of strategies that may help alleviate your heightened tension:
- Keep the tone of your voice to an appropriate, respectful level – remember, kids model what they see, and the best way to get the type of response you want is to first model it.
- Give your child the opportunity to say their side of the story (when age appropriate). Let them know you heard what they said by paraphrasing it back to them. This will give your child a sense of how much you understand them and an affirmation that you are listening.
- Be willing to negotiate when appropriate. We can’t be 100% right, 100% of the time. Use these moments as an opportunity to communicate flexibility and understanding.
- If you find yourself getting too frustrated to keep your cool, take a few minutes (or maybe even an hour if necessary) to calm yourself down. If you do this, make a point to come back and address the issue as soon as you’ve had time to cool off and gather your thoughts.
- Be assertive in communicating your needs, but offer flexibility to meet their needs as well, when appropriate.
- Take the time to talk through the situation and find a solution that is agreeable to both of you.
Above all else, remember that regardless of the situation, this is the child you have been given. No one can replace your role as their parent in both his/her eyes as well as your own.
This is the 4th week of our new weekly parenting blog we’re calling The Growing Parent. To see our other posts, click on “The Growing Parent” in the menu to the right.
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Nick Hersey, LAMFT, LAPC