Does it seem as if you and your child are constantly angry at one another? That you can no longer communicate without ending the conversation in yelling? Or that any slight problem might lead to an argument? Anger is one of the biggest problems we deal with at Teen Rescue. If you or your child has an anger problem, it can be a very frightening situation for you and your family. Prolonged and intense mutual anger between you and your child can leave lasting scars.
When trying to understand how to apply yourself to reconciling this situation, it is important to remember that your child is most likely not the only one at fault for the current, strained situation. Whatever damage has occurred thus far has been compounded every time you respond to your child with your own anger. As a parent, you need to be able to be honest with yourself about the times in which you have acted in anger toward your child.
How to Know if You’ve Acted out of Anger
There are several signs that can warn you that you have an anger problem and that your child is getting hurt by it. You should ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I have been raising my voice unnecessarily to my son or daughter?
- Have I been withdrawing from interaction with him or her because I am afraid I will lose my temper?
- Am I being too severe when I punish my child?
- Am I punishing him or her when I am angry?
- Have I been lecturing him or her beyond what is productive?
- Have I treated my child in any way that is driven by resentment rather than reason and love?
If you are acting in any of these ways on a regular basis, you are responding to your child’s problems in anger and not in love. Your anger does not accomplish anything. In fact, your anger only pushes your child further away from you. When your child sees you are upset, he or she loses respect for you because he or she sees that you are no longer in control.
Also, raising your voice is not the only way that your anger problem can affect your child. Becoming overly introverted, withdrawing from your child, or expressing your anger in a passive-aggressive way all can be just as damaging to your relationship with your child.
You need to examine yourself to see whether you experience your anger inwardly or outwardly. Whatever way the anger is experienced, it is important to understand why you are experiencing it. Knowing this will help you to respond to your child when he or she is angry without becoming angry as well.
Why You Have Feelings of Anger
Anger is an automatic response that you are using as a defense mechanism. Whatever form it takes, your anger shows that there is something out of control in our own life. This weakness often surfaces as anger when you are tired and frustrated, because your resistance and your self-discipline are lower at these times. However, these instances are telling of what kind of a person you are. When your child touches on one of your insecurities your natural reaction is to resort to your typical outlet of anger whether you raise your voice, withdraw, over-punish, etc.
To illustrate this point let’s use an example. Let’s say that your child has treated you with disrespect. You get angry and you start to yell at him or her. Being treated with disrespect by your own child can hurt very deeply. However, your anger at the child’s comment is not the child’s fault; it is your fault. You became angry because you were basing your significance on what the child thinks of you. It is normal and okay to feel hurt by such a comment. But it is not normal or healthy to respond in anger. This is only the result of your own insecurity. Due to the fact that you are the parent, you must be the more secure one. Most of the time when you become angry, it is a sign that you have lost control over yourself.
How to Respond to Your Child’s Anger without Being Angry
When responding to your child’s anger, it is important to be matter-of-fact. For instance, if your child is being disrespectful, an appropriate response would be to say, “What you are doing hurts me, and it is disrespectful. Your punishment is going to be ____.” If you respond in this way, you maintain control of your emotions and the situation, and you show your child that you care about him or her. If you cannot manage your emotions, you will never be able to maintain a relationship with your child who might also have an anger problem. You also will never be able to love your child.
When you make these decisions free from anger, you must remain confident in the person that you are and the decisions you have made in regards to parenting your child. You cannot rely on the situation to improve overnight. Your child may still remain angry with you for a while. However, the only way that the long-term relationship will improve is if you are in control of your emotions.
You can also prevent anger by realizing your limits as a parent. Your job is not to have absolute control over your child. Your job is to protect him or her the best way that you can. You are incapable of maintaining absolute control, and if you try, you are only going to make your child and yourself angry.
Life without an Anger Problem
It is important to realize the adverse effects that anger has, not only on your family life, but also on you as a healthy human being. Scientific and psychological research shows that we can never completely compensate for our anger through exercise and diet. Experiencing anger actually releases toxic poisons into your bodily systems. Some of the physical effects of this are the reduction of the heart’s ability to pump blood, rashes, hives, warts, restricted blood vessel, inhibited digestion, and intestinal problems. Suppressed anger can also lead to alcohol and drug addictions.
In addition to these health problems and the domestic problems that you avoid by treating your anger problem, learning to manage your anger will allow you to live a much more peaceful and productive life. Unless you deal with your anger problem, you will never be able to be compassionate and express love to the people closest to you.