It’s easy to get angry, even very angry, especially when your kids are stepping on your very last nerve. But consider this, especially if you are getting unusually angry: Is that really why you are mad? A lot of times, our anger isn’t about what has happened or even the way other people are reacting, although that can make things a lot worse.
Recently, it’s been very easy to make me angry. It’s not that the kids have done anything, it’s that I’ve been feeling miserable because of asthma and allergies. And I’m angry about it. I’m angry because I love to be in the woods. I’m angry because I love to be involved in Scouts with my kids, including camping and campfires. (Campfires trigger my asthma.) I enjoy opening the windows when it’s nice outside. And I hate taking medicine all the time. So, I’m angry. No matter how young or old you are, there are times when life just makes us angry.
As I tell my kids, I get to feel my feelings, but I don’t have the right to ruin anyone else’s day because of it, and that includes berating friends and acquaintances online. If you find you are getting angrier than normal, please, stop and think about what you are really angry about. If you see your kids getting angrier than normal, think about what is going on in their life to see if you know the problem. Whether you know what it might be or not, talk to them about it. You might be wrong, there might be details you don’t know, or they might really want to talk about it.
It doesn’t help anything to berate your friends and family for something totally unrelated. Misplaced anger just damages your relationships. It can get kids in trouble at school and it can cause problems at work.
But HOW Do You Keep it from Spiraling?
We all have times when we are just wound too tight and can’t just “calm down.” When I’m like that, I sometimes go to a website I know is full of trolls and/or arguing and work out my venom on them. Realistically, nothing I say will have an impact (good or bad) there, unlike in my real life. Doing that helps me be a kinder, better, easier-to-live-with person for those in my actual home and life.
If you’re in a bad mood but not that wound up, give yourself a time-out. After you calm down a bit, go back. The Wise Dad likes to play video games when he needs a time out. Surfing the net, shopping for whatever you happen to need, cooking, watching TV/DVDs, and reading are also great choices for a time-out.
Personally, I like to take a nice tub bath when I really need a time-out and so do our boys. The kids have been trained since they were babies that I don’t come out of the bathroom for anything, so I have no problems with them interrupting a bath. (Of course, if it required a 911 call, I would, of course, come out – but there are TWO parents in the house, and the second parent can pretty much always handle anything that can’t wait a few minutes.) The Wise Dad prefers to spend some time on his favorite massively multiplayer online game. Listening to music, exercising, reading, being outdoors – whatever works for each person.
It’s not hard to have calming spaces set up in a home. It just takes a bit of work.
Be an Example
Kids learn from their parents. That’s hardly a secret. If you want your kid to learn ways to handle a bad day, frustration, and anger, learning how to do it yourself is a good start. Not only does it show them things they can do (exercise, read, games, bath, etc.), it also teaches them that they should do something to calm down and that it’s OK to walk away and take a minute.
Not only that, but it teaches them to give other people some space when they need it. One of the most infuriating things to happen to me recently, as an adult, was when I told another adult I was angry about something completely different (not our conversation, which was truthfully merely annoying) and didn’t want to talk just then. The man wouldn’t accept that I was in a foul mood and forced having a conversation within a few minutes. Unfortunately, his choice of how to handle the situation made me think less of him. Knowing when to let other people have their space is a good skill for kids to learn, too.
It’s worth taking a few minutes to be sure your anger is being directed at the right place, and in a productive manner. It will make your home more peaceful and benefit your whole family for years to come.