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Anger Management for Parents

What is anger?

Anger is a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility. Although anger is a basic human emotion, feeling angry can be a problem for parents.

Being a parent is a tough job. It can be stressful, and lasts 24 hours a day. Unlike most jobs, there is no training on how to parent. Children are not born with an instruction book.

Many of the stresses that we all face, like job, marriage, or money stress, seem worse when we have a crying baby who does not sleep much. Babies and young children are very demanding. This can be hard to deal with when there is no one for parents to turn to for a break from the kids. Relatives may live far away and parents may not know neighbors well enough.

What is the cause?

Many parents feel angry when they are stressed. But feeling angry and doing something when angry are two different things. When there are serious problems within a family, everyone in the family may feel angry much of the time. The anger becomes a big problem and guilt about it adds to the problem. Most people who hit their children in anger feel more stress than they can handle.

What can I do when I get angry?

Stay in control and keep calm. Take a "time out" by separating yourself from your child. You may go to your room or send your child to theirs. Take advantage of the time and space to cool off. Provide a good example for your child.

It helps to follow a 2 step process:

  • First, tell your child how you feel and what you are upset about: "I am very angry that the toys have not been picked up."
  • Second, explain what you want done about it, and put a time limit on it: "Dinner will be in 10 minutes. I expect you to clean up your toys before we eat. I'll set the timer."

Another technique is to offer a choice: "You have a choice. Either you put the toys away, or I will put them away and you will not be able to play with them for 1 week." Stick with your decision.

If your anger gets the best of you, turn on some music, take a nap, go for a walk, or call a friend. Talking with a sympathetic friend, spouse, healthcare provider, or therapist about life stresses can help you calm down. It may help to learn relaxation techniques. The 3 basics of relaxation are:

  • Slow down your breathing.
  • Relax all of the body muscles one group at a time, for example starting with your head, then neck, and so on.
  • Imagine a comforting or pleasant scene.

Self-statements can also be helpful. Some helpful self-statements are:

  • I can handle this without blowing up.
  • This will pass, and I can take a few deep breaths while it does.
  • I can relax my body, and not be upset.
  • I do not have to let this bother me.

Time-outs can also be useful.

  • Leave the situation (go into another room).
  • Do something physical such as walking, jogging, or bicycling.

If you are afraid that you or someone else will hit, shake, or otherwise hurt your child, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.

You can get in touch with a local support group in your area by contacting:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-10-07
Last reviewed: 2011-10-06
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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