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I'm Avital.

You want a present, peaceful and playful family life? I'm here to help you make that a reality.

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Anger Management Tips for Parents: How to Handle Anger in Parenting

FREE: 3 Steps to Solve Any Parenting Problem


Do you ever get angry at your kids? Good! I’m not alone. A reader named Melanie has also experienced it, and she wrote to me:

Dear Avital,

Thank you so much for all that you do. Your work has changed our family life forever. I’m wondering about feeling angry. I know that we’re not supposed to yell at our kids, but do you think it’s okay to say, “You’re making me so mad.” or “I’m so mad at you.” ? If not, why not?

I think authenticity is incredibly important and I think NOT saying I’m mad when I am or pretending I’m not is like silencing myself and suppressing my feelings. That can’t be a good model for my kids can it? Isn’t feeling angry just a human emotion that children need to witness as well?

Looking forward to hearing your perspective on this,

-Melanie

Firstly, I invite you to watch my video all about anger.

Anger is a natural thing that all of us are going to feel from time to time. Depending on your temperament, and how you were raised, your body and your words are going to come out differently when you’re angry. It might be something that you really struggle with, like I do.

Anger is a natural feeling. You DO have a right to feel your feelings. Your feelings are justified. It’s OK for you to feel angry. So beating yourself up about this or feeling guilty, certainly won’t help. However,  let’s differentiate between how you feel, and how you behave.  Feeling angry – that’s OK. Unleashing your anger on someone and acting it out, vomiting whatever we have inside of us onto our children – not OK.  The same goes for our children! We want to teach them that it’s OK to be mad or sad, jealous, but it’s not OK for hem to hit, grab, or yell at someone.  The other thing to know about feelings is that WE have to take responsibility for them. 

Other people don’t MAKE us angry. We don’t get mad AT other people. We get mad within ourselves.  There was an external trigger for it. Something stimulated our anger. It’s our own interpretation of that specific situation though, that ‘made’ us angry. And here’s the clincher: The fact that we get angry doesn’t give us license to blame or shame someone else’s behavior.

  • You can disagree with your children’s behavior.
  • You can think that they need guidance, or consequences.
  • They may need a lot of teaching around what they’ve done to understand that it wasn’t OK.

You are still not responsible for your emotional reaction. Saying “I’m feeling very angry right now,” is very different from saying “You’re making me angry.” This may sound like only a semantical difference but I think there’s actually an essential difference in how we’re treating the other person, what we’re putting on them, and what we’re putting on ourselves. So we want to shy away from telling children, “You made me mad!”  

Anger is a growth opportunity. Anger is a growth opportunity. Anger is the moment that we can step into the peaceful person that we want to be. It’s very easy on the yoga mat, in meditation, or when your at at retreat. It’s very hard and very meaningful when we can rise above and become peaceful in moment of being triggered. It’s when the prefrontal cortex is actually offline and the body is being driven by the reptilian brain, by a reactive brain. It’s a glorious opportunity to rise above and become peaceful. The moment the anger wants us to get really really loud, is the moment that we get really quiet. It’s in the resistance to the tyranny of anger, that we can grow into the peaceful people that we want to be. It’s in distancing yourself from the anger – and realizing that it’s not TRUE to say “I am angry” because you are not an adjective, nor an emotion itself. Instead we differentiate ourselves and think “Oh! This is anger trying to control me.”

We allow anger to speak TO us, but not FOR us.  We are not its messenger, but we listen to it! 

Think

  • Hmm. Why did anger come to visit at that moment?
  • What is anger telling me?
  • Which boundary been crossed?
  • What story was I telling myself?
  • How was I allowing myself to be treated in  away that I don’t want to be treated?
  • How was I disrespecting myself?
  • How am I trespassing over my own boundaries and limits?

That’s listening to anger, understanding, and drawing important conclusions for the future. So when you’re in that moment where you want to unleash, cause pain, shame, blame, and YELL here are 3 things you can do to stop yourself from releasing that venom. 

  1. Stop Yourself – Dr. Laura Markham recognizes this as the first step in her sequence of Stop, drop, and breathe. Pull yourself back and say you need a break. Do something crazy to express energy, like wiggling your whole body. Excuse yourself if you can and ask another adult or even another child if you can, explaining that this isn’t their fault, but you really need a break to go and calm down. Inhibit yourself as if you were on camera or being watched. This is not about suppression of your feelings, but not acting on your anger. 
  2. Wait until The Feelings Pass – This is very hard if you’re a hurricane, who blows when they’re angry and sweeps everyone up around them. Turtles retreat, stonewall, and go into their shells (Harville Hendrix refers to Hurricanes and Turtles). This is the place we DON’T act. Instead we wait. Express your anger through art, journaling, dance. Let it out -just not on someone else. Talk to a therapist or friend. If you’re stuck with your children, then change up the atmosphere. Watch a movie. Go on a walk,  or go upside down. This will really help to let your emotions move through you. All emotions pass. 
  3. Express Yourself in a Mindful Way – You can’t wait until later to say to your dog “Hey I really didn’t like that when you peed on the couch, ” but you can do that with your kids.  For example, “I got really upset when this happened and here’s why…Here’s what I feel about it.” This is about getting close, feeling cuddly, and getting calm. Having a bit of a laugh is great! Hold your child’s goodness to light and say, “I know that you’re such a good kid, and that you don’t mean any harm by this, but it didn’t feel quite right to me. Can we have a conversation about it?” Understand that it’s about listening to their side and the fact that we may have missed an entire perspective! Use non-violent communication and connection at a time and in a place that feels good. This would also be the time to apologize! 

The sense of pride you feel when you manage to stay calm in a situation that used to trigger you, is no small feat. That sense of pride is growth. Our children deserve to see leadership that takes responsibility and takes action! So if we bring in remorse and reform to show that we’re taking that two-pronged approach to tackling our anger problem, then I think we’re doing the very best we can. 


Have you ever found yourself in the throws of anger? Do you find managing your temper to be difficult sometimes? I want to hear about it in the comments.  What’s the role of anger in parenting, and what does it feel like for you? Let me know in the comments below. 

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14 comments

14 Replies to “3 Anger Management Tips to Keep you From Losing It”

      1. Hi Avital – you’re such an inspiration!
        I have a different Q and didn’t know where to post it so adding it here hope you get it and can help me.
        Both me and my husband are bit of introverts when it comes to meeting big groups of people at social gatherings we find it difficult and I especially get anxious abt what should I say next and conscious abt being judged all the time. So the result it I avoid these gatherings sometimes. However I don’t want my lil girl to be like me would like her to be more brave (which she naturally isn’t thanks to me). How can I make this happen in her or is it unreasonable to even expect such a thing?

  1. I NEVER struggled with my anger, truly, until I had kids AND a husband who struggled to control his temper. I absolutely believe it’s “contagious” in a way. Just the US staying calm and regulating ourselves IS how our children learn to regulate themselves….I truly see how we pick up anger management skills (good ones or poor skills) from each other. It’s like a nervous system pulse thing, translating to the people around you I swear! Now to be the peaceful ninja I want to be so THAT rubs off on my whole family instead of rage becoming the thing that spreads.

    1. I know exactly what you mean. I feel like the intensity of relationships when we become parents and partners brings out whole new emotional experiences we never even knew we had in us! 🤪

  2. I need so much help with this! Thank you for posting. I cannot control my anger when my toddler is whining at me for a long time. It’s like I just run out of self control and any little thing makes me an angry hurricane after that. I feel sad if I can’t communicate my feelings at the moment, it seems like I’m saying that I’m not important. That it doesn’t matter how I feel, just that the family is happy… Which makes me more angry! Why is that?

    1. I totally get it! Often it’s the story, or the “frame” we’re telling ourselves about the situation. Like if a toddler whining “means” that they’re disrespectful, or that we’re failing then we get upset. But if it just “means” they’re tired and they’re… a toddler… then we can handle it. What story are you telling yourself that the whining means?

  3. Hello, and thank you for all your support. I had a hard time with my anger as long as i tried to supress it or push it away. My child is spirited and very sensitive. He observes me so damn good, he sees my back when im making the dishes and hit the Bulls eye. Kid: mom, are you angry? Me:? … Conecting with me… Yes i feel a little anger. This happend first time when he was 3 Years old he was a very late talker : ). He mirrors my feelings so extreme. Especialy the hidden ones. The feelings i’ve lost connection to. So he is very aggressive and rude when ii’m disconnected. I take it as a gift. Since i’ve learnd the first step of violent free Kommunikation it is better. He is helping me, to stay in touch with my feelings. Now i love my anger. This power! Wow, my experience is, when i handle it with care it is a powerfull tool for change. From anxiedy to love!

  4. I’m definitely struggling with anger! When my 3yo hits his brother I just lose my mind. Our 2yo started biting when he gets hit…. I have to create safety but it’s so hard to stay gentle when you see an “emergency.” I think I’m going to make an info graphic of this to post in the playroom!

  5. Hi!!!
    I’m new in your blog and I’m very glad that I found you!!! I’m a three kids mother and sometimes I feel lost, confuse an sad because I feel that I’m not making a good job…many times I get so angry and frustrated that literally I lose my mind!!! In the other hand I want to do unschool but in my country it’s not available and it’s so sad!!! Is there somewhere I can write on to subscribe me for international unschool? ? I’m from Costa Rica…here there’s a law that makes us send our kids to school and we are having a really hard time with these…Could you help me with some advises?? Thank you so much for your time!!!
    Gerdy Soto…

  6. Thank you Avital for your video , help my a lot your perpective about this topic but also make me realize how many precious opportunity we have in order to teach our kids in how to regulate his fiings and in that manner is an opportunity to examinate our selves in somes emotional gaps we have and how inmature we will continue if we dont gift our selves the oppotunity to learn with parenting.

  7. Hi. Anger is something that I struggle with. However mainly on the inside. It eats me up from inside out. So when my boy asks me are you happy? I still don’t know what to answer because I think I should tell him how I feel but I also don’t want to sometimes because it’s not his fault that I’m angry. It’s my trigger.

    I would just add that feelings come up to be prossesed. Most times probably a painful memory from our childhood. I use processing exercise from Inelia Benz. It’s fast and effective. When taking a moment for myself I welcome the feeling in my body. Let it to express itself, welcome it then let it grow in my body then bigger than my body, bigger then Earth, bigger than Space and that’s when it disappears. Fill in the space in body with light.

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