While children can bring us the kind of joy and fulfilment that perhaps money cannot buy, they can also make us tear our hair out in anger, frustration and exasperation, as many parents, including ourselves, can attest to. According to research (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TivZYFlbX8) , what a child learns and experiences during the first 7 years of his/her life will form a core part of his/her subconscious, which will then govern 95% of his/her life after 7 years old. For parents, it is hence important to set a positive example, in among other things, how we manage our anger and emotions towards the kids. If we allow ourselves to lose our temper and self-control easily, and scold/beat the kids excessively, they will adopt the same kinds of behavior whenever they feel angry or frustrated next time, creating a vicious cycle. However, managing our temper and emotions effectively can be easier said than done, especially in the heat of the moment. How can we do it?
First and foremost, do not react immediately when you are angry. Often, we are not in a clear state of mind when we are angry. If possible, let your spouse handle your child while you take some time to calm down first. If your spouse is not available, try the 10 second rule: take a deep breath, take your mind off your anger or anything else, and count to 10. After you have calmed down sufficiently, think through on whether the kids are really the primary source of your anger. Sometimes it may be due to other underlying reasons, such as problems at work or problems in your marriage. And when your child is not behaving what you expect him/her to, although it is a minor issue it can prove to be the trigger point for you to lose your temper and self-control. If so, there is no point in taking out your anger and frustration on your child, nor is it fair to him/her.
If there are no other reasons other than your child, ask him/her calmly why he/she is behaving this way. For example, if your child spills water from a flask, instead of assuming straightaway that he/she is playing with the flask, he/she may actually be trying to fetch you some water. If your child hurts his/her younger baby sibling, he/she may actually be trying to imitate your action of carrying and comforting the baby. Sometimes, your child may even be too scared to say out the real reason for his/her behavior. Try putting yourself in your child’s shoe, or think back to the time when you yourself was still a child, and think/observe why he/she would behave like this. Do not always jump into a conclusion that your child must be naughty or playing a fool.
As parents, it will also be good to constantly moderate our expectations on how our child should behave. Often, consciously or subconsciously, we have high expectations on how our child should behave, even to the extent that they should behave like us adults. We can tend to forget that they are still learning in many aspects on how to act and behave in different situations, including how to manage their feelings. As part of their learning process, it is normal for them to throw tantrums or lose control of their emotions. As mentioned above, how you respond to these tantrums or misbehavior is an important part of their learning process, and it can set the stage for how they will behave later on in life, as well as their emotional and psychological development. . Be prepared for all the “terrible” stages, learn to stay calm (if not force yourself to stay calm) and set a positive example, and teach your child why he/she shouldn’t behave in a particular way. If you are at fault for losing your temper at your child, do not shy away from apologizing to him/her. Rather than merely telling your child the importance of admitting one’s mistakes and saying sorry, acting out yourself will reinforce this teaching much more strongly to him/her.
If possible, give yourself the necessary “me-time” to relax and destress. A lower overall stress level will do wonders for your anger management and self-control when a situation arises, and you will come to realize that, a lot of the time, what your child does is actually not worth your anger.
Anger management and self-control towards your child is a continuous process. It is not easy and takes practice, but with some self-awareness and restraint, you can replace the tantrums with more laughter, and help your child to be a better person.
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