Dealing with your own anger in your parenting
Being a parent is one of the most humbling things in life. Even more than marriage, parenting has revealed more flaws in my life than anything else — one of the most notable is anger.
For tips on how to deal with your anger in the moment, you can check out this post. But today, let’s talk about dealing with the anger before it occurs.
Figure out your triggers
An anger trigger is simply something or event that typically causes an angry response. Figuring out what your triggers are is a good first step to being aware of what is really happening. This will give you the ability to make a plan for dealing with the trigger in a different way than when you’re unexpectedly caught in it.
High-pitched screaming, siblings fighting, whining, and over-the-top rough housing are all triggers in my life. When I pay attention to my own reactions, I notice that high-pitched screaming makes my muscles tighten up, my teeth clench, and I am pretty sure my blood pressure goes up as well. My being aware of the physical changes in my body is a good checkpoint for me to refocus my thinking and deal with the problem in a more planned-out method than just reacting without thinking.
Making a list of your triggers while you are calm gives you the opportunity to make a plan for when they occur next. So make a list of your triggers and then brainstorm a plan for how to better handle them.
One of my triggers is sibling fights; a few possible solutions are separating them for a time, making a get-along jar, or helping them talk and work out their problem. In our house we use these at different times depending on the exact situation, but knowing my plan when a situation occurs is a huge stress reliever.
If you are looking for more help in dealing with your triggers, I really have found the book Triggers to be helpful. It is broken into small chapters on 31 common triggers.
It’s ok to say no to good things
Sometimes it is ok to end or say no to something the kids are doing that isn’t necessarily bad. For example, if your kids want to craft at the kitchen table but you know you can’t handle that kind of mess and chaos in that moment, it is better to say no than to end up snapping in anger 10 minutes later. When I say no to my kids, I often tell them to ask about it again the next day.
There were times I stopped my kids from wrestling with each other even though they didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe it was a rough day overall, or I had a migraine, so stopping them before my emotions got a chance to escalate saved all of us from potential anger and frustration.
Dodging anger triggers isn’t an excuse to always say no. Most of the time, if possible, I try to say yes. I also know my limits and theirs, and being proactive is sometimes the best solution.