Sometimes, everyday life is just much more stressful than you ever expect it to be. You end up playing the part of the angry parent much more than you ever expected, and it happens more often than you’d like to admit.
When you are interacting with your kids, particularly during those more “intense” moments – when you get stressful news or have a difficult morning, or come across a late assignment or a broken house rule – it's easy to fly off the cuff and react with urgency and intensity.
Getting angry is a natural response.
Typically, when you make parenting decisions as an angry parent, you aren't fully rational, and often you are overreactive. Later on, you may find yourself regretting your actions, or worse – your words.
Whenever possible, take time before you take action. Wait until after you've taken a few deep breaths, or after they get home from school, or even “tomorrow” or next week.
Never underestimate the value of taking a break, a pause, or a breather, whether it’s deep breathing, counting to 10, or walking away before reacting. “Pause” has the power to re-direct and diffuse even the most difficult circumstances.
Though simple, breathing is really a powerful tool:
- It reverses some of the natural responses when we are under stress, counteracts production of stress hormones, and slows down our heart rate and blood pressure.
- A few (3-5) deep breaths with long exhales can provide more than enough time to give you some space to really figure out how you want to respond in a situation.
- An added bonus: if you breathe, or pause first before responding, there is a real chance that you will respond differently. Potentially, that can help you avoid one of those challenging “why did I say that?” situations.
Make the promise to yourself and your child to follow up after you've calmed down. Giving things some time to cool off will provide for a more effective and appropriate response.
In order to stop being an angry parent more often than you'd like, it takes practice. Take a pause, take some breaths, and learn to calm yourself down – even when life's stresses are conspiring to rile you up.