It can happen even to the calmest moms and dads out there. I mean, it happened to me recently. I was having a stressful day and Alexander did a number of really naughty things (smearing paint on our white walls, spilling water on the ground and "cleaning" it with his feet). Despite my best efforts at peaceful parenting, I just lost my cool. Words were said. Doors were slammed. Unfair treatments were given.
It happened before I could stop myself and of course, I felt an enormous amount of guilt for yelling at Alex and took steps towards making things up with him. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here are the things you can do to make up after yelling at your kids.
Step 1 – take a breath. Being angry puts our body and emotion in a high alert, meaning your breathing becomes shallower, muscles are tensed, heart rate is up, and thinking is not clear. Get your body and brain back on track with some deep breaths. Go out for a bit if you must. Just don’t do anything else until you feel at least a bit calmer.
Step 2 – take responsibility without BUTS. Adults do this too! The fact is, it doesn’t matter who started it. This is a good time to teach your children how to take responsibility without you switching the blame to someone else. Do this by saying, “hey, I’m sorry, I let my anger get out of control.” Put the focus on you, but never add “…but you should know better.” Or “…but next time.”
Step 3 – be wary of re-triggering anger. Your kid might not be ready to call it quits or give out the fight. Sometimes it’s easy to get worked up when the issue resurfaces. Just remind yourself that you’re the one in charge of your actions, and similarly, you can be the model of self-control regardless if you blew it a while back.
Step 4 – start a do-over. You can now begin to fix the real issue by offering a do-over. You can do this by saying “ok, I’ll do it again, but this time, without yelling” or “Wow, I got so angry I don’t think I heard what you were talking about.” Say, you begin to feel angry again, take a short break and try it again later.
Step 5 – make the proper amends. Your children may feel disconnected to you if harsh punishments were given or if hurtful words were said. Following the steps above, set the situation aside for a bit, then wait on giving consequences and concentrate instead on repairing the relationship with your kids.
· Bring your kid somewhere special (I brought Alex to Luna Park for a ride on the Ferris wheel), or treat him or her to Hoyts Cinema in Erina Fair to watch a film he/she likes – this works wonders! It shows them that you’re sorry and you feel responsible for your actions. It can also provide a short break and allows you the bond and talk over things in a lighter note.
· Talking with your kids after the worst of the issue has passed and everyone has calmed down is also beneficial. Try to find the trigger – what pushed your buttons, and talk it over with your kid. Try to find a pattern that makes you respond with anger. (In my case, Alex was acting out because i wasn't giving him enough attention, I was busying making work calls and sending emails).
If you find yourself getting angry often, or if you find yourself swinging between a calm parent to an angry parent, perhaps it’s time to get some outside help. You may seek out a parent friend, a therapist, or a parent coach to open up and ask assistance. Admitting your issues is a sign of a good parent. I wish you the best!