Seven Things To Do When You Are Angry


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1. Exit/Leave or Wait. Two important words to remember when you are angry are exit and wait. When we are so taken up with emotion that we are about to lose control, calling an adult time out can help us take a breather and overcome our "short madness". Reacting in the heat of anger can have terrible consequences.

2. Use "I" not "You". When a child does something to make us angry, our immediate reaction may be to shout, "Why are you behaving like a brat?", "Why don't you shut up?" The message we send the child is that we do not like him. However, it's the action that we do not like. "You" statements generally hurt the child's self-esteem. "I" messages tell the child exactly how we feel. Next time, when you are angry, try saying "I'm mad about what you did," instead of "You're a bad boy."

3. Stay in the Present. Don't use what the child has done to remind him of other mistakes he made in the past, or to tell him that you do not expect any better in the future. You may try saying, "I'm disappointed that you did not put your toys away" instead of "You'll always leave your toys in the wrong place. You will never learn."

4. Avoid Physical Force and Threats. If spanking did work, there would be no need to do it more than once. Hitting a child when you are angry can do more harm than good.

5. Stay Short and to the Point. Be specific. Young children need you to tell them exactly what you want them to do in as few words as possible. It's pointless to tell a three-year old to clean up her room. You'll wait forever. If you expect results tell her exactly what you want her to do, e.g. "Put your socks in the basket."

6. Focus on What is Important. As a parent, you need to decide what is important in your household. Choose very carefully which battles are worth fighting. Have simple rules that relate to important matters.

7. Restore Good Feelings. As a family, you should want and need good feelings to prevail. A simple apology from a parent, when necessary, can go a long way in healing wounds and teaching children an important lesson - say you're sorry when you need to.