Anger & kids

It is OK for children to see their parents get angry. Anger is a normal emotion. 

On the one hand, adult anger can be scary and overwhelming for kids. We are so much bigger, we have tremendous power over them, and they desperately need and love us. 

Yet on the other hand, acting like you are not angry when you really are is inauthentic and teaches children to falsify themselves -- not a good lesson. There is a difference, though, between what we feel and what we actually do. Being openly angry yet handling it with restraint, responsibility, and skill is a great model for children.

Prevent angry encounters
This can help us anticipate and prevent angry encounters. For example, explain early on to your kids what is coming and what you want them to do. Be organized yourself. Choose your battles wisely and don't struggle over little things.Be credible in your parental power. Do not make threats you don't fulfill. For example, if your kids know that you won't tolerate ridiculous squabbling, they will be less likely to do it in the first place.

Intervene early and decisively
 If you do not exceed the necessary threshold to get your children to act appropriately, your intervention will make little difference. Study the situation a moment before you react, and then be calm, clear, and sufficiently powerful. Avoid the crescendo by being effective early on.

Restrain angry expression
As much as you can, have reality be the consequence, not you. If you tell your daughter not to eat the brownie until after dinner, and she nibbles at it anyway, it's better for her to lose the brownie than get yelled at. 

Criticize the behavior, not the person.

And don't go into rages. Raging at kids can become a very bad habit. It is very frightening to them, verges on emotional abuse, and undermines a parent's credibility and moral authority. Above all else, do not be violent. The dropping on the bed you describe definitely sounds 'over the top.'

Imagine that you have an internal regulator which slows down your reactions. Imagine yourself in an angry situation and visualize handling it calmly and well.

Deal with your stress
You speak of all the pressure you are under. Don't take it out on the kids. It's not their fault that you are stressed. Do things to lower your stress level overall. Work things out better with your spouse. Talk with friends. 

Understand yourself
Examine yourself and how you typically deal with anger. By understanding your anger you can insert self-control into processes that are currently unconscious and automatic, and based on old learning that doesn't apply to your current situation. 

Look into your underlying motivations. Sure we want to be less angry, but sometimes an unwanted condition has hidden rewards to it that make it hard to change. What might be the rewards for you in your angry style? Does anger give you a sense of power? Is it a familiar ritual that enables you to blow off tension? Does it give you a feeling of being back in control of situations that you have let get out of hand?

Sometimes we have a backlog of anger from other situations that get transferred to our kids. Kids are lightning rods for anger. 

In particular, anger from our own childhood (our anger as well as that of our parents) can be reactivated by our kids. The familiar situation of an angry parent calls up that old anger, except this time we are the parents. It can feel sometimes like we are 'channeling' mom or dad, and doing things to our own kids that cut us to pieces when our parents did them to us. 
Unresolved anger in children can erupt in damaging and inappropriate behavior. 

I Am So Angry, I Could Scream ...teaches children techniques for releasing anger in healthy ways and methods for preventing anger-inducing situations. 
Young readers are shown how to keep an anger chart to identify the causes of their angry feelings and how to find positive ways to work through them.

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