Back to Basics: Dealing With Anger

Anger is a very real emotion in parenting, and I think so many times people are afraid to talk about it.  Acknowledging that anger can exist in ourselves towards our children not only makes us feel sad and guilty, it forces us to face our own imperfections.

I wrote this in May of last year:

“If we create a battlefield in our mind against our children, then all is lost.  By battlefield, I mean the minute we begin thinking, “My child is doing this on purpose!”  “My child is out to get me and make me miserable!”  “My child knew what they were doing and planned this!”  “My child is just wanting to push each and every one of the buttons I have!”   Keep reading to find out the implications of what I mean by that!

Mamas, I have been there and done that and I would like to share something with you that I have learned:  If we create a us versus them mentality in our mind and in our attitude before we even open our mouths, then we have lost.

We have lost the opportunity to warmly hold the space for our children, we have lost the moment to guide in peaceful energy the behavior we would like our child to show, we have lost the connection between us and our child.”

The whole post the above came from is here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/22/the-battlefield-of-the-mind-anger-and-parenting/

I wrote some more regarding anger in parenting last November (modified text for this post today):

Conflict is a part of life, and anger is not a BAD emotion – it is just a feeling like other feelings.  However, many parents choose to discipline their children when they are angry or hurt.  Some parents choose to hit their children when they are angry.  Hitting a child is wrong, (if you need an argument for this please see this post:   http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/20/getting-past-fear/ )  and when we lose control and responsibility for our actions when we are angry we lose that teachable moment.  A  split-second action in anger can also cause a parent to have remorse and guilt.  It can necessitate an apology!

Instead of losing control, I would like to talk to you today about how not to be the angry parent……I believe anger issues actually are OUR problem, the parent’s problem.  Usually we are trying to do something in a tight time frame, we are carrying in baggage from our own childhood (“I NEVER would have talked to MY parents that way!), we are tired and stressed out over things that may or may not even have to do with that child, we are carrying unrealistic expectations of that child’s behavior, or just in general our needs are not being met.

The questions becomes:  what do we want our CHILDREN to do when they are angry and how can we model that for them?  If we walk around yelling and slamming doors, how can we be surprised when our six-year old does that?

After you are calm, hopefully you can return to the situation and work to solve the problem. Help the child, guide the child.  Breathe in and breathe out.

Patience is developed over time.  I am certain I am more patient with this third child than I was with my first child.  Learning to relax into parenting and how to let go of the mentality that every single thing must be addressed so the child will not become a Detriment To Society is also learned.  Set a timer and see if you can keep your patience for half an hour if that is where you are, and work up from there. You can do this!  Fill your own tank so you have something to give.  Get your children into a rhythm with an early bedtime so you have time for you and time for you and your spouse.

Most of all, be thankful.  Go look at your children while they are sleeping, those small faces, realize how very little ages three, four and five really are.  And in this time of dwindling light and moving into darkness, work to cultivate yourself as a light for your family.

Need more help?

Here is the popular back post on “defiance”:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/16/a-few-fast-words-regarding-defiance-in-children-under-the-age-of-6/

Here is a post for when you are feeling chronically angry toward your family:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/05/an-emergency-how-to-how-to-parent-peacefully-with-children-under-age-9/  This is probably my personal favorite post I have ever written on anger.

Many blessings to you all tonight,

Carrie

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17 thoughts on “Back to Basics: Dealing With Anger

  1. Thank you so much for this. Anger is definitely my biggest parenting “hurdle”. I feel like I have come a long way, but I still have some work to do on this. Thanks for the kind and wise words. I will take them to heart.

    I agree that (for me) it is hard to keep my cool with my children when (as you put it) my “needs aren’t being met.” Self care is so important while in the service of small children, and sometimes easy to overlook in the hustle and bustle. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. oh Carrie, you are god sent to me. Thank you so much i am a 25 year old mom to two adorable kids. 3 year and 2 months. you had help me thru a lot of difficult time. sometimes when i need guidece i come here to you. i really appreciate you taking your time to write to us, you really helping me, i learned so much from your post.

    thank you and may the star of wisdom shine on you every day
    raquel

  3. I just wanted to say that I am very much enjoying Parenting Passageway. The articles are relevant to my family (myself, my husband and two boys ages 7 and 11). My boys are very different from one another offering me double the learning opportunity. I especially enjoyed the “stop talking article” . A wonderful reminder!

  4. Another lovely, substantial post. Thank you for this inspiration an resource. I followed all of the links and read this thread. I appreciate your candor and guidance. I especially resonated with your comments about sarcasm and children. I was raised in a sarcastic home and at 45 still feel as though I am recovering. Thank you for sharing your inner work, it helps me with mine.

  5. Oh, Carrie. Your blog is such a blessing to me. It’s amazing that you always seem to post about just what I need at the perfect time. Much gratitude for you and this blog.

  6. Carrie, thank you so much for all your thoughtful words. When I discovered your blog, I read through almost the whole thing (not an easy task), and your posts on anger and self-work really spoke to me. In fact, the whole Waldorf philosophy has been life-changing for me… the idea of peace, rhythm, calm, working on self, beauty, creation… I can’t even explain how much it’s meant to me.

    I grew up with a wonderful mom, but a VERY angry and emotionally abusive father. He didn’t say that much, but he was just so angry with me all the time. I can’t even tell you how devastating that was to me, even into adulthood.

    No big surprise when I started to have those same issues with my daughter, huh? I was SO angry with her as a little, little child (two years old! crazy) for not sleeping and being…. TWO! I don’t think I expressed it like my dad did, but it it made me feel horribly guilty and like a terrible mom.

    Enter Waldorf and your blog. Goodbye (excessive amounts of) anger. I’ve let go of unreasonable expectations of my three year old. I feel much more at peace and have more energy, since it’s not all going to being upset. When I’m overwhelmed, I recognize it as MY problem and give myself permission and space to calm down and refocus. Amazing! Thank you so much!

    • Wow, Butterfly Nest, thank you so much for your words! Your journey of healing is such an exciting and important one, and I want to thank you for sharing it here!
      I am impressed you went back and read all these posts (close to 700 posts now, you are right, not an easy task at all!! Bravo!!)

      Much love and many blessings,
      Carrie :)

  7. Carrie,

    You’ve got some amazing timing with your posts…I usually feel as though you are talking directly to ME! My husband is out of town, I’m sick, and I find myself getting so angry at my 3 year old. I hate the way I feel when I’m angry (and the way I act, too!), and I woke up this morning vowing to make today better. I’m off to read some of the links you mentioned, and I’ll be setting a “patience” timer for 30 minutes at a time this morning. Thanks again!

  8. Carrie, This is an amazing post, so phenomenally inspiring and helpful with a wealth of information not just in this post but in the multi links you have shared for further information and the links that then carry to more info yet again in those linked posts. Thank you one million times. This is absolute gold! Thankyou xxx

  9. Hi, Carrie- I have been reading many of your posts about sleep, especially in regards to preschoolers & naps/quiet times. My anger is at it’s worst when my son won’t nap, or at least play quietly in his room for awhile. He just turned 4 this month. He sleeps from 8pm until 7am. He naps for an hour after lunch. (Any longer, & night sleep is disturbed.) If he doesn’t sleep, he’s tantrum-prone from 4pm on. If he’s still & quiet in his bed for 20 min, he WILL fall asleep. But, he is spirited, so getting him to be still & quiet is a challenge. As an introvert (& busy mom) I NEED my quiet time. I also have a 20 mos old who naps 2 hours. I usually nurse her to sleep while he plays, then lie down with him until he’s asleep, or very still/quiet.

    What do you recommend for the days he WILL not be still & quiet in his bed? I’ve thought of trying lacing/yarn activites. Books or quiet toys don’t work. I’m tired of being an angry mom at that time of day. :(

    • Hi Beth,
      Actually I would say that your son sounds like an excellent sleeper for just turning four. He sleeps for eleven hours at night. Naptimes for four year olds can be tricky. The first thing is really not to make a big deal about it. I know this is hard, but the more angry energy you put into this the less likely he is going to be calm and peaceful enough to settle down. Can you give him a foot or hand massage with dimmed lights and tell a story? If he won’t go to sleep, perhaps some salt dough with cutters or just setting up a little fort to go and be a bear in a cave would be a start. I would expect a quiet time to be shorter than if he was asleep though.
      Hope that is helpful, four is just challenging in that naps may be phasing out…if the nap phases out he may be primed for bed even earlier than he is going to bed now.
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  10. I’ve been really enjoying reading your blog for a while now and this post is very timely as I’ve been struggling a lot with anger lately. I have two sons – one has just turned three and the other is seven months. I’ve realised that my trigger point for anger are usually when both of them need me at once and their needs are mutually exclusive.
    For example, last night I put the baby to bed first then spent some calm time with my other son before starting his bedtime routine. Then just as I were about to take him up to bed the baby woke up and I needed to go and nurse him back to sleep. Meanwhile my son refused to let his father get him ready for bed and kept crying for me. After a while he came into my room where I had nearly got the baby back to sleep and woke the baby up again. So I was back to square one. I totally lost it – which I am not proud of.
    I just really want to be there for both of them but it doesn’t always work out and I don’t know how to cope with that. Any ideas?

  11. Hi Carrie, sorry forgot to check back here! Yes, of course I’d be happy for you to use my scenario.
    Not sure I’m getting any better at it but I’m pleased to report that my three-year old now seems to have learnt how to be quiet if he comes to find me when I’m feeding the baby to sleep.
    I’ll look forward to reading your post!

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