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hate how I feel when I yell at my kids. Stop it! Hurry up! What did I just say? It sears my own ears to hear myself raising
my voice at them when I get stressed or just plain sick of them acting their
age. (Have I mentioned I have a 2-year-old?) I don’t want to yell at them—they
are defenseless and looking to me for guidance and an example of how to deal
with anger. I’ve tried to stop, but in
the heat of the moment, I slip up. My blood pressure, temperature and voice rise
despite all my best intentions.
sometimes it feels like expecting me not to yell is analogous to swallowing my
anger, which is not what I want either. I
want to show them how to deal with anger, not swallow it. After all, anger is an appropriate response when
they are ripping up a library book or bickering over who gets the green spoon.
had perfect command over my emotions and could stop yelling, would I be
teaching them that expressions of anger are bad and should be shoved down
inside? I’m not prepared to serve as a model for how
to stuff anger. The question is,
however, how can we express anger in a way that honors it as a natural human
emotion without hurting other people?
I’ve tried a few different things
in the hope of setting an example for my kids about how to deal with anger when it
inevitably comes up. My vision is to
involve them in the process by acknowledging my rage, and then inviting them to
share the process with me so when it’s their turn to express anger, they will
feel empowered by the choices I’ve modeled for them.
No one is yelling at anybody else; we are yelling together.
Here are my top three methods for
dealing with my anger in the presence of my children:
myself a time-out. Right before I
bellow, I stop myself. I take a deep
breath. I tell my children that mommy needs a time-out because she feels really
angry and needs a moment to collect herself. Then I leave the room. Once
alone, I text a fellow mother or my husband to report that I haven’t yelled yet, but I am this close. I take a few breaths. I pray for my perspective to
change. I get in touch with myself and figure out what’s going on. Usually, my temper is shortest when I am tired
2. Punch the
couch. In my house we aren’t allowed
to hit each other, but we are allowed to hit the couch. When I find myself at the brink, I invite my
kids to join me over at the couch. I get
on my knees and together we punch the couch. It’s a great way to get the negative energy out in a way that includes
scream. This technique is like a
group hug, except instead of hugs, everyone screams. At the
top of their lungs. If you have
neighbors or if your partner is on a conference call in the house, you should
do this in the car. We count to three
and then all of us scream like maniacs. No one is yelling at anybody else; we are
yelling together. Everyone ends up laughing and asking for “one
more scream,” and these are the good kinds because they don’t make me hate