Anger Management Tips for Parents
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Today, we’re putting a new spin on anger management so you can approach challenging situations in a way that invites more calm and zen into your day-to-day life with little kids.
Rather than give you a new breathing technique or specific mantra, I want to offer you an overarching framework through which to view anger. Here it is: getting angry and triggered is very similar to being drunk.
We can all picture the kinds of behaviors that typically flow from the consumption of alcohol. When a person is inebriated, the control center in their brain is inhibited.
The more alcohol they consume, the more their ability to make good choices goes out the window. They might even start doing things completely outside the realm of good judgment – (*ahem* been there)!
Our society places boundaries around alcohol consumption for this very reason. People who drink beyond the legal limit are not permitted to drive. Why? Because their judgment is impaired, putting themselves and others at great risk. The only thing to do in such a case is hang tight and wait it out.
When we get triggered, we go into fight, flight or freeze mode. Our prefrontal cortex is suppressed in a similar way. Our amygdala is firing, heart racing, palms sweating, and fists clenching and ready to fight.
If you reframe your anger and think about like getting drunk, then you’ll know what you need to do: wait it out and refrain from hurting yourself or anyone else.
Keep these points in mind the next time you feel the rage bubble up inside:
- This Too Shall Pass
When you feel yourself getting angry, realize that the feeling of being triggered will subside. It’s a chemical reaction in your body that will reach its peak and then settle back down.
- Take a break
When you’re angry, the thing you need most is a break. This is not the time for negotiations, setting boundaries, discipline, or teachable moments. Wait it out until your judgment and decision-making skills are back online.
- Zip It
I’m wise enough to know that when I’m under the influence of alcohol, driving is not an option. When I’m under the influence of anger, it’s not the right time for a conversation. Tell your child: “I love you dearly. Let’s put on some music and when I’m calm, we’ll talk about what happened.”
- Discipline Later
Parents are often told that they need to address misbehavior right away. If your dog pees on the couch, you need to offer an immediate negative reinforcement because you can’t have a conversation about it after the fact. But with children, we can have conversations later on. Teach your kids that because you find the issue so important, you’re going to calm down first so you can address it properly and not from a place of anger.
Anger is a normal human response to situations that worry and upset you. But once that chemical process in your body has begun, it’s important to know that your amygdala is firing and your prefrontal cortex is offline. The very best thing that you can do is wait it out and express yourself to your child after you’ve calmed down.
I hope this mindset shift about anger has been helpful to you. If you enjoyed this episode, leave a comment below or share your thoughts with us in the all-new TPJ app!