(This post is geared toward those times when you are feeling angry daily with your children, not so much for the occasional angry moments. This is sort of like “Emergency Management for Chronic Anger”…)
If you are having an emergency in attempting to parent peacefully, here is a top 10 list of how to do this:
1. Start with understanding your own triggers for anger. Write down the things that are “making” you angry. If every item on that list is child-related, please check and double-check if your expectations are realistic. Underneath anger are usually other feelings such as fear or sadness.
We are all human, and we do get angry. Here is a great post about the opportunity that occasional episode of anger affords children in learning: http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2008/08/dealing-with-anger.html , just to remind you that the complete elimination of anger is not a realistic goal, and that occasional anger is normal and even healthy. The important thing is to show your child constructive ways to deal with anger AND how one can transfor oneself from “Angry Person” back into “Normal Person” without hurting anyone physically or verbally in the process!
2. Get support. Find your local La Leche League group here: www.llli.org and find your local Attachment Parenting group here: http://www.attachmentparenting.org/. Call these Leaders on the phone and talk to them. Both La Leche League and Attachment Parenting put loving guidance/gentle discipline as a main philosophical tenet. Get a family counselor’s assistance as well. Many health care professionals will work on a sliding fee scale.
3. Get support from your family, friends and neighbors. If you are out of control angry everyday with your children, you may need more support right now. Even the 10 year old down the street who could come and play for an hour with with toddler while you are there could be helpful. Investigate all possibilities for help. Call in your friends and explain that you need extra help right now.
4. Check out what is going on with you and your family members physically. Is there a physical reason why you are so tired or depressed? Is there something going on with your child?
5. Check your environment – visual clutter can wind many children up. Clean up their sleeping areas to be restful.
6. Make a list of what you will do to calm down when you are angry and post it somewhere prominent. There is no problem that cannot wait a moment to be solved, and on top of that, how many problems can be solved anyway with everyone yelling and crying? That is not a teachable moment. It is okay to take a moment before you address the situation. Remember that your role is to teach and to guide your children toward being capable, loving, responsible adults.
7. Check out your food; dyes and preservatives and common allergens can make behavior worse.
8. Check out the amount of outside active play your children are getting! They need to get some energy out before they can sit still.
9. Check out what you are requesting of your children; particularly with chores, which seem to particularly anger parents, children under 9 need you there to supervise and assist, to show them how to do it. Children under 7 need to most likely do it with you to have it done to your satisfaction. Children should be expected to work round the house as part of the family; however, for small children we view the parent working and the child weaving in and out and then moving into chores that you have helped them to learn over time, and at under 9 they may still need some supervision or they will get distracted by something else along the way. Check how many times a day you are requesting your children to do something; if it is constant nagging and asking a child to clean up or assist in household chores, that to me is a signal that there 1. Is too many things out in the environment to clean up and/or 2. is no consistent rhythm to chores on a daily basis or a weekly basis.
Watch what you say to your children! Use your words like pearls: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/19/using-our-words-like-pearls/
Promote kindness in your home: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/03/kindness-in-your-home/
10. Learn how to forgive yourself. See this post for help: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/22/waldorf-guilt/
Much love and peace to you,