The Number 1 Parenting Attitude Which Leads to Anger
All human emotions are tied to specific thoughts which occur before the emotion even shows up. Exploring these thoughts helps to alleviate the intensity of emotion. When we explore our thoughts toward good parenting, we see how some attitudes that we have affect us, and, subsequently, our reactions to children’s behavior. This can be difficult when we might not even be aware of what hidden thoughts are happening, what memories are deeply held in our minds towards parenting.
Today I want to share with you one of the most common attitudes I see directed towards children, which fuel parents’ anger.
It is one simple thought: Children need to obey.
Often parents feel angry when children do not do what parents want them to do. This is especially problematic when parents expect automatic, immediate obedience, without question, and without explanation. For instance, a mom gets angry when she tells her son to put his jacket in the closet, and he refuses to do so. Perhaps he has forgotten or gotten distracted, but the end result is the same: repeated frustration for both parent and child!
The Solution is developing your anger management in parenting. When thinking about children, try to think about yourself. What are your goals and motivations? Are you always doing what you are told to do by your closest ones? How would it seem if you, as an adult, did everything that you were told to do, by every person who told you to obey, with no discussion, thought, or explanation?
It doesn’t sound realistic, right? Children have different reasons not to listen and not to do what you want from them (and, some of those reasons are better than others, I know!). A better attitude to replace this authoritarian one would be a concept that we practice, from Dialectical Behavior therapy – Children do the best they can every moment of time.
Don’t we all? I know I do, and I’m certainly not perfect in everything I need to do. I don’t always remember my jacket, or clean out the car, or even finish my writing as quickly as I even tell myself to do it! Grownups are only human, after all. Children, too, are human, and we are all doing the best we can, at each moment in time. Remembering this concept will lead you to better anger management in parenting.
If your child is not listening to you and is not doing what you want them to do, it is helpful to explore – what is the reason for them not to follow your suggestions? Everyone has motivations for behavior, including small children. Some of those motivations are inconvenient- for example, attempting to keep a child safe as they run freely in a park is an exhausting task for the parent, while the kid loves the running free part! Stomping puddles is wonderful fun unless in the parking lot heading into church, and then the child’s motivations and the parent’s motivations might not match.
Sometimes children simply don’t hear us, when they are absorbed with a cartoon or a game. At other times, we just ask without any explanation, because we assume that our request is clear on its own (and that is one of the biggest mistakes people make in families.It’s called “reading minds” – and doesn’t exist!).
When you ask your child to do something and they do not, the following steps will help compassionate communication with your child! It will help to build your anger management in parenting:
- Come to your child, look them in the eyes, and establish contact.
- Take their hand and tell them what you want them to do.
- Walk with them to the place where they need to do something, and help them.
- Repeat next time, until it becomes a habit.
The main thing is to come up to them, look them in the eyes instead of screaming from the second floor. This sort of interaction, a first-person interaction, is shown to refocus children almost immediately in many cases.
Let me know how it goes! Your children, and your family, will be better for it, and the future adults you are creating will be, too!
Always yours, Dr. Alena