On the parenting rollercoaster of emotion, it often seems that anger is expressed more than any other, and the daily pressures of life don’t make keeping your cool any easier. Once the feeling erupts, it can be hard to control it. Often parents end up lashing out, and then experience guilt and dismay for their actions.  

The parent-child relationship is volatile and knowing how to handle tantrums is tough. The reason that children can provoke their parents so quickly is known as the “ghosts in the nursery” phenomenon by scientists. The theory explains why parents unconsciously re-enact the past, because their children stimulate the intense feelings of childhood. It’s challenging for parents to exorcise those feelings, but it’s crucial to do it because anger is harmful to children.

Anger’s Long-Term Influence on Kids

A new study released by Child Development journal found that yelling at your kids is just as detrimental as physical violence. Steven Schlozman, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, explains that, “Kids who are the subject of continual beratings by their parents have higher rates of emotional problems, including depression, anxiety, and conduct challenges … they feel less sure of themselves, they worry more … and they get into more trouble."

Children depend on their parents to provide a sense of self. Yelling and verbal abuse is not how to handle tantrums. It can lower your child’s IQ, increase the chance of substance abuse, and establish lasting negative impacts on future relationships. 

Tips for Keeping Your Cool 

If your child is pushing your buttons, slamming doors, or yelling, he/she is mimicking your actions. Controlling your behavior is the best way to influence your child’s. By first dealing with your powerful emotions, you’ll know how to handle tantrums. The moment you feel yourself getting angry, start applying self-regulation techniques.

  1. Set limits. Many times, disputes are the result of a combination of irritants. It can help to set limits on behavior before you get angry.
  2. Calm down before acting. Awareness is fundamental. Stop, drop what you’re doing, and breathe. The pain management techniques for childbirth can help you. Deep breaths give you the ability to choose your action.
  3. Physical ideas. Studies show that facial expressions influence your feelings. When you feel angry, take deep breaths, hum, and smile. This will help reduce the rage you feel.
  4. Take a break. Exiting the area isn’t a defeat. It actually communicates how serious the transgression is, demonstrating how to handle tantrums and anger in a healthy way. If your child is too small to leave alone, run cool water on your hands and face. Regain your calm by repeating a mantra like, “Only love today” or “This is not an emergency.”

Children have big emotions because they are learning to express them. Showing anger “at” someone feeds negative feelings of hurt and fear and only makes your parenting job that much harder. By calming yourself first, you demonstrate the characteristics that will help your children grow up healthy.

Article Courtesy of Stepping Forward Counseling Center
26 Main Street, Chatham, NJ
steppingforwardcounseling@msn.com / 973-635-6550