Parents' Anger towards Kids
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Parents' Anger towards Kids
I'm turning too frequently into the parent I never wanted to be: yelling,
infuriated at silly things, sarcastic, desperate, emotionally frozen. My
kids (4, 7) aren't even that bad, although they have their share of
normal sibling bickering and teasing and hypersensitivity toward each
other's presumed intentions. But I am getting so wound up so easily
these days at things that are frustrating but actually shouldn't matter
so much (e.g. toys all over the floor, clothes strewn about house) that
I am starting to worry this is the new normal -- a period of calm and
quiet and then mom exploding at everyone. I feel like a rock that is
being molded by a slow drip-drip into something new. And I feel that
now I've opened the door to being a yeller and meanie there's ''no
point'' closing it again -- but that it might also stay open longer and
longer. I even stopped drinking coffee because it made me prone to
being more frantic and jittery with the kids.
The other day we were out and I was mad -- not yelling but very
frustrated -- at one of the kids for not eating his lunch but
demanding a treat. My husband had been elsewhere with the other kid
and when we met up he immediately remarked that I looked really,
really angry -- it's certainly how I felt but I'm feeling really bummed
that I was wearing my anger on my face so clearly. How depressing for
me, the kids, anyone who happened to see us. Do I need to see a
therapist (would it help? Who should I see?)? How can I readjust my
expectations and image of myself? I know I can work on my
relationship with my kids more easily than I can adjust my sense of
who I am for and with them.
Anyone else been there?
Don't want to be a meanie anymore
Yes, see a therapist! The Psychology Today Find a Therapist
website allows you to enter search terms (location,
insurance provider, etc.) and find different
therapists--they've each written an informational blurb
about their expertise and those are very informative, and
you can go a little further and yelp or find a website if
you want even more information beforehand. Look for folks
who specifically address parenting issues.
It is really, really hard to be a mom. There's not much room
for ''me'' outside of wife and mommy anymore, so it's pretty
luxurious to have an hour a week to sit and cry and complain
and demand all eyes on me, and have somebody tell me that
it's okay and normal and I'm doing just fine. I also
appreciate my therapist's expertise and push-back/challenge
when I'm struggling through particular parenting issues.
I'd also suggest you find some way to charge your batteries:
I find that my own snippy-ness and anger is a good sign
that I need a few hours of perfect quiet and no
responsibility, and my husband has learned that it's worth
the inconvenience to get the ''real'' me back! I do the same
for him, though his manifests differently (tuning out,
rather than short fuse).
Take some care of you!
Here's an article that I read about 9 months ago, when I was going thru exactly
what you describe. I hated the tone that I was setting for my family and
that my kids would actually tremble when they saw me getting frustrated or
angry. It wasn't a healthy situation for anyone.
I realized that I needed to change and that I needed help to do that. I
taking Celexa and our family life is much more tolerable...for everyone! Meds
aren't for everyone, but when my behavior started affecting others, I didn't
I had time to mess around. Good luck.
Your post resonated with me because I had a cranky mom whom
I resented for too many years. I fear being like her and
having my kids feel that way about me. My kids are also 4
and 7, and overall nice kids. here are some things I try
and/or deal with; I'll number them for easier organization:
1. I NEED to exercise at least three times a week.
2. At almost 42, I feel subtle signs of perimenopause:
increased moodiness, A friend, who is a naturopath suggested
a concoction called PMS Emotional by Wishgarden. I cannot
attest to how it works yet, but I hope it smooths some of
2. My mom was the primary disciplinarian. Now, I am
actually sometimes not tough enough with my own kids, for
fear of being resented. My husband sometimes feels like the
bad cop to my good. I find that when I take a deep breath,
set a firm rule, and stand by it, my kids actually treat me
better after a few days of clear expectations. A book
called 1,2,3 Magic gave me some ideas about counting to
three and then disciplining kids. I needed a framework, a
plan set up ahead of time, for how I would navigate
frustrating moments with the kids. The hardest part was to
follow it. I want the consequence to be about them, not my
3. I do not drink, even a little bit, on weeknights. I find
it makes me more prone to being short-tempered.
4. You know how distraction is a strategy to deal with a
crying or stubborn toddler? I try to use that on myself.
When I feel the boil start inside, I change the flow, turn
the topic to someone else. I ask a kid about his/her day,
what book they liked lately, what happened in their cartoon
earlier, anything to get me away from that feeling and to
hopefully change the temperature. I feel more comfortable
disciplining once I feel I have grounded myself and tried a
I think you will get some other really helpful responses,
and maybe some of this will help. It was therapeutic for me
to type it up. Maybe that's another strategy! You must be
doing a million things ''right'' if your kids are fine, which
you say they are. We all have tarnished spots, and maybe
the trick is to stop rubbing at it so hard and look at the
I really identify with your concerns and hope you get some
helpful responses. I have found that yelling at my kids is
totally ineffective yet I too struggle to maintain
composure sometimes and find myself saying mean things.
Just want you to know that you're not alone, but it's still
not right. I have noticed that when my level of stress
(finances, work, relationship with husband, etc) is lower I
tend to be a nicer mom.
I hear you! This is something I have dealt with throughout all my parenting
years. I was fine when it was just one kid, but two and then three
somehow pushed me past the point where my threshold for reacting
shifted - a lot. Good for you for recognizing your issue and for wanting to
My answer is simple. I get acupuncture once a week. It absolutely and
profoundly changes my capacity to deal with stress, anxiety, anger --
especially the stress of raising three kids. Everybody notices the
difference. And they notice if I DON'T get my weekly treatment, too! I
would never be able afford weekly acupuncture if it weren't for community
acupuncture. I only pay $15 each visit. I go to Berkeley Acupuncture
Project in downtown Berkeley, but there are several in the East Bay and
SF. They only charge on a sliding scale that you choose to pay from. It's
the most blissful hour to myself and it has made all the difference in the
world for me.
Poked and Patient Mama
Yes, I have been there... and left! It takes time and effort, but
it's possible: if I did it, you can too, no doubt. I hated to see
myself turning in one of my parents (I had to learn it somewhere,
no?) so I imposed myself to do absolutely nothing when the anger
boiled up and to think how I felt when the roles where reversed.
Then I thought what I would have wanted when I was the child.
Very hard in the beginning, and I wasn't always successful. It got
better with time. And I started realize that many things that made
me mad were really nothing to care about, so it got even easier. Not
to scare you, but it did take years to get to a point where it
really doesn't come as a natural reaction any longer. However, along
the way, every time that I was able to stop myself from going into '
anger autopilot', I felt happy and encouraged, so you get some
rewards along the road. Full disclaimer here: I'm not the image of
calm and patience, but I can deal better with my impatience and I'm
not triggered nearly as much as I was years back.
Cherry on top is that my life with less anger is a much happier life
I could had written your post few years ago! Instead of being calm and loving I
felt angry, frustrated and overwhelmed. I felt like my head was about to
explode and I needed to yell to my two young kids.
I actually got help from acupuncture. I had never done it before and went in
for other reasons but boy did it help with my moods! My acupuncturist told
me that anger, irritability and explosiveness are symptoms of liver imbalance.
I got treatment and have felt so much better ever since. I still take herbs and
go in for an occasional fix-up. Easy and cheap. Before trying acupuncture I
honestly thought that my only chance to change would be years of therapy.
The hardest part probably is to forgive myself that I spent so much precious
time being so angry and frustrated. I'm working on being able to let it go and
being kinder to myself.
I have also started to take better care of myself. Sleeping enough, eating
regularly and having personal time without kids. Seems simple but was hard
for me to put into practice. I have focused on other people's (my kids) need
for years, now it's time to take equally good care myself.
Reading your post I so recognized myself, there were many
times when I thought I was turning into my father-grumpy,
short tempered, demanding, and kind of insane. I knew I
wasn't completely off my rocker since I had the ability to
notice my behavior, apologize, and ask the Universe for
help. My children are now in their 20's and we're a close
loving family, we laugh a lot when revisiting the past. I
got one of the biggest gifts, when I realized that I could
just be human, not pretend that I was some supermom. I've
had the privilege of having adult children who tell me how
much they respected my parenting.
I think the times when I was less of a mother than I wanted
to be, I was overwhelmed by responsibility, fearful, and
resentful. I was in an unhappy marriage, and feeling kind of
stuck in it. This may not be the case for you, but I wonder
what's eating you. In my experience these behaviors rarely
exist in a vacuum. I know that when I start to get picky,
judgmental and difficult there's something going on that I
need to address. I learned that I don't need to say what I'm
thinking, that I need to focus on me. This is pretty hard to
do when you have little ones, but it's not impossible. My
advice to you: regularly take some time for you, make a list
of what's bothering you, what you change, and what you might
have to accept. Wishing you peace.
I could have written your post a few years ago. Then I went on Zoloft for
post-partum depression following the birth of my third child. The
unexpected benefit was I stopped getting angry at everyone. I'm relaxed, my
resentment has evaporated and my relationship with my husband is as good
as when we dating.
I've tried to go off several times, but within several weeks Im back to
screaming at everyone. So with my doctor's blessing I remain on a low dose.
It has changed my life.
Good luck finding the right solution for you.
I'm sorry you are having such a difficult time and applaud you seeking a
You deserve it, as does your whole family.
I would encourage you to check out Raising Happiness at
There is a book and an online class that is very accessible and designed to be
convenient for busy parents.
Hope you find this helpful and that you persist until you find what works for
wishing you well
Hello, I recently had many of the same thoughts as you, and
wanted to learn how to control my anger and become a better
mom. I searched the anger sections of the BPN archives and
found a therapist who has really helped me. I feel
so much more hopeful now. I recommend looking into therapy.
It takes time and money, but for me it has been a very
worthwhile investment. I had previously read some anger
management books that were helpful, but talking to a
professional really helped me figure out things that I
couldn't have figured out on my own.
don't want to be a meanie either
Kids push us to the limit sometimes. Part of that is
helping your kids get more mellow and part of it is
recognizing that being angry in front of your kids
occassionally gives them permission to feel, and a view
that all emotions are OK.
If your hubby noted that you looked mad, you could have
asked him for a hug to help you calm down. That would be
a wonderful way to show your kids a positive resolution to
some of life's harder to swallow feelings.
grandchild of an angry parent, child of one who tried to be better and
sometimes got it
I found this book ''How to Stop the Battle With Your Children'' by Don Fleming
http://www.amazon.com/How-Stop-Battle-Your-Child/dp/0671763490 to be
extremely helpful for me. He gives great ideas for strategies you can use to
both you and your kids understand that they are pushing a limit BEFORE you
actually reach that limit (and thus start yelling/getting super angry/etc).
the best suggestions he had, in my mind, was about TALKING to your kids about
how you want to help them understand that when you say something, you mean
it, and that you also want change the way you act when they don't seem to be
listening to you. He suggests basically setting a-priori rules about how many
''chances'' the kids get to listen to you before a pre-determined consequence,
that is non-negotiable, is invoked.
It takes effort, but it really made a big difference in my household!
No, you do not have to ''be a yeller''. And you're not alone
- every parent struggles with how to best manage those
moments of incredible frustration.
It's actually very helpful that there is a part of you that
is aware that you overreact, even though you get caught up
in the feelings at the moment.
A good and easy place to start is medical - have you had a
checkup lately for thyroid, hormone levels, a review of any
meds you are on, getting enough sleep? My physician
colleagues say that a high thyroid level, for example, can
show up as increased crankiness. Next, are there other
stresses in your life that weren't there four or so years
ago - besides having kids of course - that are driving this?
If not, I'd suggest both neurofeedback and thinking
about/learning some new parenting strategies. Neurofeedback
can help you train your brain to stay in a calmer, more
relaxed state. Clarity about your parenting values, rules
and strategies can give you something to lean on when your
kids push your buttons. Maybe it's helpful to realize that
in a way it's their *job* to push your buttons - to test the
world, see what's okay, and to let you know what's going on
inside them (kids don't have the words to describe it, so
they ''show'' it).
For the frustrating times, it helps to have some tools in
your pocket that can not only direct them, but also to help
them learn to regulate their emotions and reactions. When
that happens, you can get the cycle going in the other
direction - you help them get calmer, so less buttons pushed
and you get calmer, so you can better help them...etc.
First, take a deep breath! There IS a way to turn it around, really! I imagine
are feeling overwhelmed and out of sorts. Adding some organization/structure
to your day will help set expectations for (you and) the kids. Do you have any
planned ''time outs'' for yourself?
Dear Mom, I admire you for your wisdom, honesty, and desire
to change. Your kids are lucky to have you.
Parenting is the most difficult job you will ever have. Our
kids drive us crazy yet we love them dearly, more than they
will ever know. And we never know if how we're raising them
is right until years after the fact.
My kids are now 18 and 16,and absolutely wonderful. I've
done so things the ''wrong'' way but somehow they remember
they good. Don't be too hard on yourself. Get the help you
need for you, your kids, and family.
This is not the end of the story! Please be kind to
yourself, just the fact that you see what you are doing
and don't want to do it is HUGE! Yes, get therapy - it
helps! I completely understand your post - things that
have helped me - therapy, letting go of my own agenda with
the kids, letting myself be awed by them - watch the
youtube video called ''The Gift of An Ordinary Day'' watch
it everyday, let it remind you of how precious this time
is! You are trying - you just need some help - I wish you
all the best!
also angry sometimes
Been there still doing that.
We have a 5 and 8 y.o. I realized that I see other families
in the USA having similar problems but now I cannot recall
seeing it happen in the part of Europe we visited this year.
In that country our friends go to work at 8 take a break in
the morning, take an hour for lunch and stop work at 5 (I'm
in the same line of work and put in 50 to 60 hrs a week as
do colleagues here). They take a full vacation of several
weeks adding up to a month over the year with all the work
left behind. The children walk to school by themselves.
Sunday, everything is closed and it is a time to spend with
the family. Their children have sibling arguments, the
parents let them work it out saying it is natural for
children to argue they are fine, the children also
understand that certain things are not acceptable and will
not be tolerated and the children follow the set rules. The
parents somehow manage not to yell or blow up at their
children. They treat them as little adults guiding them as
if they are co-workers being trained for a job. It seems to
Take home message, the bay area is a high stress two income
60 hour work week place and add children to this. Everyone
thinks the other families are perfect and we try to be
perfect as well. We cannot control and force things to be
Are you getting enough sleep? I was really feeling mean and I
know what you mean about frozen--I just had so little to give.
I felt the kids were taking and taking and bickering and
wanting dessert AGAIN when they hadn't had lunch. After
reading the Nurture Shock chapter on sleep I decided my kids
were getting enough sleep, but my husband wasn't. To help him
I started to go to bed between 9 and 10. I never would have
guessed how much it would help me. I am so much happier and
better able to be there for the kids and not just angry and
wiped out all the time. I'd always thought being a bit tired
was ok, since I needed that alone time after they went to bed.
But it turned out that actual sleep was much more restorative
than anything I did after the kids went to bed.
Hoping you get lots of good advice from others, and also, some
good long nights' sleep.
early to bed
I want to send you love and support and encouragement.
Basically, you are describing the frustrations that come
with being a mom to young kids. It changes us. It really
does. We are tested in ways we never imagined, and
sometimes it shows on our angry, frustrated faces.
I wonder if you have a life outside your family. That can
go such a long way to making things feel better. if you are
a SAHM, your identity can get caught up in how the kids are
doing, what they are eating, how they are behaving. But
they are their own little people who will continue to grow
in their independence - and defiance of you. The best thing
for you to do is to let go of some of your expectations and
turn to your own interests and perhaps professional
accomplishments. That is what you can control.
Also, remind yourself to take more of your kids' defiance in
stride - he didn't want lunch? Oh well! No treats, no
snacks, until the next meal! Any other topics??? That kind
of thing. Save your sanity.
Good luck to you, and looking to see what others advise.
I would appreciate advice:
1. I'm consistently stressed and short-tempered, and
2. one of my daughters triggers me more than the other, so she
catches the worst of my black moods.
My girls are nearly 6 and 4. I have had a particularly stressful
year, with multiple extended-family illnesses and deaths. That
said, I have always been short-tempered--not just this year--and
my family suffers because of it. (Only my very most intimate,
oldest friends know about my ugly temper. For the most part, I
take it out at home--and on telemarketers!)
My husband and I are in counseling. We're actually in good shape;
the counseling came about because of standard
stuff. We address my temper in our sessions, and overall my
husband feels I'm doing better. But, honestly, I don't feel I'm
doing well enough.
Sometimes I get so angry I can't behave like an adult, and when I
see how it effects my kids I'm horrified. Sometimes I scream and
scare them; sometimes I just get immensely frustrated by small
things that ought not to be a big deal--and it must just wear my
kids out worrying about whether they're going to set me off.
Last week I was so pissed by my older daughter's whining and
inability to stick with a dance class (which she's been in all
year) that I drove the kids home in silence after the class,
walked into the house, shouted to my husband that I was off duty,
and went out on our deck and drank three glasses of wine in half
an hour. (Generally, I don't drink.)
I just wish I could stop myself from getting so angry to start
with. It's the big girl's whining that most frequently sets me
off--and part of me thinks she just needs more attention (but I
need her to be the big girl so that I can attend to her younger
I dunno. I haven't done a good job at teasing out my own strands.
But I weep when I see my kids' faces after I've chastised them
over nothing, and I'm not getting concrete help even from a good
Does anyone on this list have some other magic--or some other
hard work--to suggest?
Wish I could grow up
I totally empathize with you - becoming a mother - let alone mother of
3! has brought out some really terrible short tempered behavior on my
There is a wonderful therapist named David Siegel who writes about the
relationship between the brain and mental wellness and I recently saw
What he says is that it is normal and expected that we all ''lose it''
once in a while so don't go beating yourself up over it. The KEY and
important thing to remember is that you HAVE TO REPAIR IT. That is -
apologize to your kid, talk to them and say, ''i am so sorry i was
yelling earlier, i was angry about X, that probably scared you...'' and
then your child will not be so traumatized by the event itself. He is
an amazing speaker and author - and has a parenting book called
Parenting from Within.
Aside from that - i would try to find ''tools'' you can use to calm
yourself down and gain perspective to intervene on your own behalf
before your kids grow up thinking their mom is a grump. There is a good
book called buddhism for mothers...not dogmatic, just practical and an
I think we often expect too much of the older child and the advice I've
always heard is to shower the older one with attention (as often as you
can) because they most often lose out because of the needs of the
Also, i think we expect too much once they become verbal (like past age
3) and think that correlates with maturity and understanding - but they
are still often totally confused by our actions and what we ask of them.
Good luck to you - Remember how much you love your kids and go back to
that place when you find yourself at wits end short tempered too
Have you considered grief counseling? My father died when I was
child #2 and child #1 was 2 1/2. I found myself constantly blowing up
at my son and shocked afterward at how angry I was getting with his 2
year old behavior. I chalked it up to his age, or the pregnancy or
general stress, but could not seem to stop doing it.
Then I started working with a grief counselor who suggested that this
anger might be displaced grieving. That made it easier for me to get a
handle on it, and working through my grief helped things stablize as
If you are seeing a couples counselor, that person might not be trained
to recognize grief, which does not always manifest itself in ways you
might expect, and you might want to get someone with specific
experience. Call the local hospice and I am sure they will have
referrals for you. And depending on the circumstances of the illnesses
and loss you have been dealing with, you might be eligible for hospice
services yourself which means the counseling is free of charge Been
there, done that
6 is too young to always be the ''big girl.'' It just sounds so
sad-- maybe you need to cut out some time just for her. And maybe you
should let her know that you're sorry when you get angry at her. If you
already know you have a terrible temper, maybe you should be talking to
your kids about how you're managing it (or not), and make sure they know
that it's not their fault (and that you always love them. They probably
need to be able to express their fears; and the older one no doubt is
wondering if you love her less than the younger one. I wonder too, if
the reason you're so pissed at the older one could be something to do
with yourself: do you whine a lot or have trouble sticking with things?
Maybe you need more help from your husband instead of your 6 yr old.
Maybe the 4 yr old needs to just deal with it sometimes. And maybe the
issue isn't so much that you need to stop getting angry so much as make
quick and appropriate repairs once you've let loose. And then start
trying to figure out what the triggers are ahead of time, so you can
eventually work on not getting so angry. e.g., the moment your daughter
starts whining, or even before, just ask her very nicely if she can
speak nicely to you because you have a difficult time with the whiny
voice. SHOW her how to do it. You need to learn how to manage it
yourself so you can teach your kids too. And try to figure out what
triggers her too; maybe she really does need a little time and
attention. maybe she really didn't like her dance class but was too
afraid to tell you earlier. maybe designate a ''safe time'' for your
kids to tell you what they really need. And maybe get a new therapist.
She's not that good for you if she's not helping you with this difficult
problem. You may just need tricks and TOOLS to begin with, THEN
understanding. Good luck
I've had similar issues with anger at my daughter. Good for you for
seeking help and advice and for being so honest about such an ugly
thing. First, I think you absolutely must get control over this aspect
of your life, because it is fundamental that you show your small
daughters patience at almost all times. Their sense of self is at stake.
And your own sense of self as a parent is also at stake. Obviously these
stakes are very, very high. Second, you might consider whether you are
depressed and take steps to treat your depression, with medication,
therapy and exercise. I've found that an intense committment to yoga has
significantly drained my anger and impatience away; I spend about 10
hours a week in yoga practice, which may be more time than you have to
spend. I decided that if the yoga did not help after a month then I
would go on meds. I have also found that reading child rearing books
(and the postings on BPN) have helped me a great deal -- they inspire
me, teach me, and give me strength to be the best parent I can be. I
grew up with a very angry parent and suffer the consequences in many
different ways: lack of self esteem, fearfulness, high anxiety, self
destructive behavior when I was in my teens and twenties. Please don't
do this to your daughters, to your husband, or to yourself -- treat it
as pro-actively as you would cancer. Make whatever lifestyle changes
are necessary -- you won't regret it.
I've found the book, 'Scream Free Parenting' by hal edward runkel, very
helpful. you can get it on amazon for about 10$ and it was totally
worth it for me!
best of luck
Hi, I read you post and think that you may benefit from reading a book
called ''Hearing Equals Behavior'' by Dr. Berard. How you hear over
different frequencies, not how well you hear, really helps determine
behavior. If you find that this may be the case, please feel free to
e-mail, I can give you a free hearing profile to determine if there are
any issues you may have.
Auditory Integrative Training is based on the work of Dr.
Tomatis and Dr. Berard.
Please keep in mind that I am no audiologist and can provide a
Good luck! Bryan
You'll probably get a ton of responses to this one! Here are a couple
of things that are not that hard and may be helpful:
1. Ask yourself, ''Is this a life safety issue''? If the answer is,
''no, it's not'' and you can feel that out-of-control, immature anger
welling to the surface, shelve the issue. Tell your child that this
behavior, issue, question, problem, etc. is important to you, but that
you will need to take until tomorrow to resolve it with her (you may
need to repeat yourself several times).
Then, if you need to, write down the issue and put it away until you are
in a better mood and can think quietly about how you want to
coach/counsel her and deal with it.
2. Visualize. My sister has this visualization that she uses when her
children really bug her (I can't bring myself to use it, but she swears
by it). She pretends in her mind that she is wringing their necks. It
makes her feel better and they never know that she has internally lost
3. Take some time for yourself. Every parent needs a daily dose of
off-duty time. Even if you go for a 20 minute walk every day, give
yourself some space. This can be a useful time to mull over the days
I read your post, and felt a familiar emotion and wonder about any
simuliarities with respect to what makes you feel angry, versus what
sets me off.
This being said, think about what or towards whom you are really angry
at, or perhaps feel resentful. Could if really be your husband you are
angry at, and you end up taking it out on the kids? I have come to
realize this is my case, and a couple things you said makes me think
perhaps this is the case with you. Let me explain further.....
You mentioned lack of passion after kids.....this is a common problem of
which in many cases leads to deep resentment. Also, another food for
thought: How much help do you get from your husband taking care of the
kids? You did not mention that you are a SAHM, but if your are,
remember that you are ''working'' at least as hard as any individual
working outside the home. If the scenario is that your husband works
outside the home and you are a SAHM, things should be 50/50 right down
the line upon his return. (for instance if you cook, he cleans, if you
give kids a bath, he reads to them, etc etc)
Know matter how excellent a mother you are, and I can tell just by the
tone of your message that you love your kids dearly, ANY mom (or parent)
will feel angry, stressed and potentially flare up with temper if the
above expectations not adhered to. as a former business executive, I
can tell you first hand that taking care of one child, never mind two in
your case, is an overall more challenging, tiring and emitonally
draining feat than any job out there.
So, don't beat yourself up to much. You certainly, I as do, want to
work on not yelling at the kids....they are at an age where they will
exert their independence and push your buttons.
But that is just part of being a kid. All kids need attention, whether
2, 4, 6 or 16 years of age for that matter. Remember they are your top
priority, not work, money, or any other influence. My motto is, a
parent should be working at least as hard at being a parent as they ever
did or do at their career.
It is far more critical in the end
A short temper runs in my family as well, and although I'm much better
than I used to be, I worry about treating my son the way you describing
treating your daughter(s). One thing I noticed is that my temper is
much shorter when my blood sugar is low. In other words, I need to eat
nutritious (non-sugary) food on a really regular basis, and drink lots
of water. Sleep of course helps too, but that is harder to control when
you've got kids.
I also might mention, on the subject of control, that anger of the sort
you describe is often spawned by a feeling of lack of control over a
situation. Changing that requires having a lot of faith in other people,
including maybe your daughter?
Anyhow, best wishes since I know exactly how awkward a bad temper can
be, especially for a mom!
Your situation sounds very familiar-I was in your shoes when my kids
were younger. I tried everything-therapy, bodywork, meditation, and
finally the thing that helped was antidepressants. I didn't want to take
them, but it made our lives so much better. I stopped yelling and losing
it, and became much less reactive. I wasn't depressed, but my life was
just too much for me. So, I hope you will consider giving them a try,
it really made such a difference anon
It sounds like maybe there's some basic need in you that's not getting
met--and maybe it's not getting met because you are not even aware of it
or don't dare admit it to yourself for some reason. The fact that this
one daughter triggers it suggests to me that you should look closely in
this direction. Her needs, which anger you so, might just be the clue
that points to your own unmet needs. I know how hard this is. Best
wishes and good luck.
Kaiser Richmond has some great classes. One is a parenting series and
there is an anger management class. I believe that they are free.
I totally get where you are coming from. Some things that help for me
are to realize what some of my triggers are. I am much less patient if
I am hungry, too hot, or tired. (just like my
kids) I have dropped activities that occur too close to dinner, because
I was really stressed out about getting home and having to get dinner on
Make sure that you are taking time for yourself during the week. The
Berkely YMCA has great classes and you can put the kids in Childwatch
while you work out. I have found that if I am not taking care of myself
it makes me more resentful.
If your daughter has a behavior that really sets you off, talk to her
about it when you are not mad and set up a reward chart/recognition for
her for not using that behavior.
Give yourself a time-out if you are going to yell at your kids. Tell
them that you are upset and need some time to calm down before you talk
Parenting is so demanding and relentless. Even people who don't have a
bad temper yell at their kids. Try to give yourself some slack while
you figure out how to change.
Your kids love you no matter what, they will forgive you and even help
if you let them know that you are trying to change.
The part where you said you drove home in silence, yelled at your
husband that you're off, and went off by yourself--I live that, too, a
few times a week usually. I'm having the same problem as you, the short
temper with the older one. Ever since I had my 2nd kid, I get mad at my
oldest son much more than his younger brother, because number one is
''older and he should know better.'' Lately, I've been trying to remind
myself about how I felt growing up and always getting yelled at more
than my younger siblings. (I was the oldest.) I'm the one who should
The part where you said you drove home in silence, yelled at your
husband that you're off, and went off by yourself--I live that, too, a
few times a week usually. I'm having the same problem as you, the short
temper with the older one. Ever since I had my 2nd kid, I get mad at my
oldest son much more than his younger brother, because number one is
''older and he should know better.'' Lately, I've been trying to remind
myself about how I felt growing up and always getting yelled at more
than my younger siblings. (I was the oldest.) I'm the one who should
I would suggest the same to you that I did for the previous question:
check out Non Violent Communication. NVC not only teaches a new way to
communicate, but teaches you how to cultivate compassion for others, by
learning compassion for yourself, including learning how to value your
anger, and understand how it's really there to help you: we don't want
to get rid of our anger, but we do want to learn how not to *react* to
our anger in ways that are hurtful to ourselves, and others!
How we communicate to those we are closest to is often the same way we
communicate to ourselves, interally.
Bay NVC includes workshops for parents and children, and they offer
wonderful retreats for families. Check it out at baynvc.org.
Best of luck
Learning to Communicate Compassionately with Myself & My Kid
OK, maybe I'm a terrible mother, but I think you are being too hard on
yourself. You gave only one specific example: an incident where you
shouted angrily "I'm off duty!" and stormed out to the deck to drink 3
glasses of wine. Now, what if you had simply said (not yelled) "I'm off
duty" and gone off to drink 1 (or even 2) glasses? That would be OK, and
what you did was not that far outside the bounds, actually (in my
opinion). Heck, it's not as if you drank a bottle of scotch and put a
chair through the TV set. I wonder if you are setting too high a
standard for yourself -- giving and giving and giving until you just
lose it? Can you recognize when you are starting to feel overloaded and
take a break before you lose your temper? You can even tell your kids
"I'm going to get mad" before you do it - it's a lot less startling for
them, and it will help you regain some sense of control. As for dealing
with whining, run, don't walk, get the book "1-2-3 Magic" (available at
Diesel Books). It has fabulous tips for eliminating the
"persuade-argue-yell" syndrome, and shows how you can have a
zero-tolerance approach for all the kid behaviors that make parents
crazy but one that is HELPFUL to your children. Remember, just because
it's normal kid behavior, doesn't mean you shouldn't train your kids out
of it, for not only your sake, but theirs. The choices are not "put up
with everything and keep smiling" versus "yell" -- you can discipline
your children effectively and never raise your voice!
First off, know that you are not alone! Raising children brings with it
intense emotions and I think murderous rage can be one of them. That's
normal and not unhealthy. It's just what we do with it that matters.
I too have a long history of ''taking things out on'' my loved ones,
behind closed doors. I have been in a lot of therapy and while it has
helped, I believe for me I now need a different approach. I may
understand where my anger comes from but that doesn't mean I can always
overcome it. Buddhist meditation practice is for me a lifesaver. Having
seen what stress does to me, and then how I take it out on my family, I
can see that it is imperative that I ''grow up'' as you put it, and
pretty darn quickly.
Meditation practice for me is all about that. Accepting responsibility,
becoming aware of my emotions and what triggers them, actively choosing
not to follow the habitual patterns, and being compassionate toward
myself when I ''screw up''. It just makes things a whole lot worse if I
am feeling crappy about my behaviour, rather than simply acknowledging
it and pledging to myself that I will try again the next day (or
moment). It really is challenging, but I feel myself being pushed to
grow in new ways that I never allowed before motherhood. There is
something extremely rich about the rawness of emotions that come up,
coupled with the compassion and love we feel toward our children and our
desire to do our best.
I'd highly recommend reading anything by Thich Nhat Hanh or Pema
Chodron, for working with our emotions, and a lovely book called Dharma
Family Treasures which addresses issues specific to parenting. Also
Mindful Parenting by Jon Kabat Zinn.
My all time favourite parenting book (and I generally hate parenting
books) is Playful Parenting by Joseph Cohen. He has a whole chapter on
working with intense emotions, both our children's and our own, and he
addresses the all important issue of whining.
Finally, maybe you just need a break? Are you getting to nourish
yourself at all right now? It's impossible to be nurturing to little
ones when our own needs are going unmet.
learning day by day
I can really relate to how you feel. It sounds like you are dealing
with a lot. One of my children also triggers me a lot more than the
other, (also the oldest) and the more tired and burned out I am from
work, driving, etc, the worse it is. In a nutshell, it sounds like you
need to take care of yourself a bit more. I find that exercise really
helps me with my temper and evens me out a lot. I think that taking a
break is really good, maybe a long walk would have left you feeling
better. It wasn't clear from your post if you are in therapy. Therapy
has helped me understand what my daughter is doing when she throws fits
and drives me crazy (altho is sounds like it's the whining that is
getting to you). Some anti depressants can be good for the
temper stuff also. I would say just try whatever you think
would help -- your kids are better off with a little less of you (if you
go to a yoga class or whatever, in the evening) if you feel better when
you are with them.
I have a BAD temper, and so I can relate to your post, but I just want
to say that you absolutely must remember that your daughter is still
just a little girl. Six year olds wine, heck, ten year olds wine!
Children wine! This is what they do. Just accept this, and you'll be
happier. Be a bit more forgiving--and save yourself the high blood
pressure and stress. Another thing--kids are fickle. If she didn't
want to stay with the dance class at the time, it doesn't mean that the
next week she won't like it--did you ever think that flipping out like
that just ENSURED that your kid will never want to go back to the class
again since it will remind her of your freak out? Did you attempt to
find out why she didn't want to go? Maybe it was something really silly
and you could have talked her through it... or it would pass and next
week it wouldn't matter.
A six year-old is still a very young child--no matter how much older she
seems compared to the younger child.
You are modeling behavior that is very harmful to your kids, and you
have to just take control of it-- there is no therapist who can do this
for you or magic thing-- go outside and scream or stomp your feet or
shake your head and then let it pass. Get good exercise--you will be
surprised at what this does for you.
I need to work out at least 40 minutes EVERY DAY and I am so much better
than I was before.
I hope the first part of this message doesn't seem like I am lecturing
you--this is all from experience. My first boy was born when we were so
young and then the second followed shortly thereafter. I had a very
stressful job--two kids, and was extremely bad with not controlling my
temper. I would get mad and break stuff--and I saw how this effected my
sons and just decided to stop. I started taking care of myself---and
discovered that strenuous exercise was a WONDERFUL treatment for this--I
hope this helps. When you child is a teenager, you will regret having
displaying this behavior as acceptable for an adult.
control the temper
I recently went back to work part-time and hired a babysitter to stay
with my 5 and 6 year old children. I cannot recommend it more. After
being at home full-time and totally committed to being the primary
parent on duty 24/7, I'd grown frustrated, burned out, and angry. Now my
husband and I enjoy a commute together when we can actually have
uninterrupted conversation, and my kids have a ''grandmother'' they
don't otherwise have. I am back at work with adults for 20 hours a week,
and it's doing more for me and our family than I could imagine was
Just a thought that perhaps you might like less time at home.
Are you missing another part of your life? Need more balance?
Think about what's making you angry, and you might be surprised by the
results if you change things, even a little Hope this helps
I felt overwhelmingly compelled to respond to your post because it could
have been written by my mother when I was a child. I do believe it is
healthy and normal for kids to see their parents get angry now and then.
But frankly, having a mother who could not control her anger was
devastating for me and my siblings. It forced each of us into roles
that we used to cope. My sister (the oldest) felt responsible for my
mom's anger and as an adult has insulated herself and her kids from my
mom. This has been extremely painful for my mom. I just feel
incredibly sorry for my mom when I see all the pain and sorrow her
temper has brought on her over the years. I put off having children for
a long time for fear that I would lose my temper with them. You cannot
imagine how damaging this is to a child. Even though my mom would
apologize and shower us with love at other times, it felt like I was on
a ship ready to capsize any moment--walking in a minefield. I was
incredibly depressed as a child because of it and both my sister and I
had suicidal episodes as teenagers/ young women. I think it would be a
wonderful gift to yourself and your childern to get some real help with
anger control. A helpful book is ''Nonviolent Communication'' by
Marshall B. Rosenberg. The main point is that anger is the result of an
unmet need. If you can identify what that unmet need is for each
situation, then you can just say to the person,'''I need X.'' This is
SO empowering, once you get the hang of it. Instead of focussing your
energy on that spiral of exploding anger you can direct it toward an
intelligent analysis of what exactly is bugging you and just let the
other person know. For example, you might have said to your daughter,
''i need to hear more appreciation from you when I take you to the dance
class that you asked to be enrolled in.'' This has the double benefit
of helping you express your feelings while offering your daughter a safe
opportunity to express herself. (she might answer, ''normally I like
dance, but today one of the other students teased me''. A professional
can help you to express your anger and frustration more effectively with
no harm to your family. I encourage you to try--it is SO worth it angry
I want to comment on a couple of things you wrote. You mentioned that
you're not getting concrete help from even a good therapist.
I think from what you wrote you have to really manage your emotions,
most particularly of course your anger. Speaking not as a parent
(expecting in November), but as a kid who grew up with a dad's
hair-trigger temper, it is so critical that you get a better therapist.
I think that if your therapist is not giving you good concrete advice on
managing your anger then you are not getting the true help you need. At
the risk of going Dr. Phil on you, you are changing the people your
girls are becoming/will become by taking out your anger on them,
especially the older one. They may become fearful, insecure and/or they
inflict their anger at how you are treating them on others who are more
vulnerable than they are. I know that you probably know this. I do not
mean to be judgmental, but I believe you need to run, run, run to get
this help because you are ruining your little girls.
Another thing you said is that you need your older girl to be a big girl
so that you can focus on the little girl. Perhaps the reason she is
whining is to get attention from you that she is not getting. Perhaps
she sees that your younger daughter receives your attention by using her
''little girl'' whining voice.
Sounds like a vicious dynamic that you and your daughter are in that,
believe me, she will remember and resent unless you do something about
it. And let me just say that ''nearly 6'' is still very young. Perhaps
your expectations of the nearly 6 year old are much too high for her at
Anyway, just my two cents. It may be hard to hear, but take it from
someone who grew up with a very angry parent about how devastating it is
to a child's psyche to grow up with so much hostility. I truly hope you
seek better help for your anger.
You are shaping the people your girls are becoming every single moment
of your life with them. And there is no magic bullet cure. You have to
work at it.
When I read your posting, it made me think a lot about how I behave with
my 2 kids. I'm also short-tempered and I get angry really fast lately.
I think having 2 kids has a lot to do with it, since it's hard to
satisfy their demands. I feel that I'm running all day trying to keep
up with both of them and I wish I could split myself into 2 sometimes.
I attended an anger management class and that helped some, but what
helps me the most is getting some time to myself. I try and go to the
gym or go out with friends or by myself for coffee and I notice that it
helps me calm down.
I would also look at your childhood and some issues your may have when
you were growing up.
Hope this helps
Feel your pain
If therapy alone isn't helping enough, have you considered medications
to help ease your stress? - as an adjunct to therapy. Antidepressants
work wonders for a variety of symptoms including general stress and
anger. You might want to try them for 6 months to a year to see how you
respond. Taking them can help deepen the therapy process and move you
forward and help you tolerate more and be calmer.
Read the book Dianetics! It'll give you a complete picture of what is
occurring and why. You'll love it! It blew my mind JOJ
I have been considering writing a similar post because I also struggle
with my anger/temper and feel like it often gets directed at my
daughter. I am in therapy, couples therapy, and take anti-depressents
(I am a major childhood trauma survivor) but it is still a lot of work
not to scream at my daughter when she gets whiny, does not listen, or
gets an attitude (she is 9).
I do several things (and am still working on it!) 1. Being aware of
what triggers me and trying to nip it in the bud (being in a rush, being
overwhelmed, stressed, etc) by noticing when my anger starts to flare.
I take a lot of deep breaths and often direct my daughter into another
activity so she won't trigger me- she is a constant talker and has very
high energy and I often feel blown over by her- and often have her go
into another room with her younger brother, age 4. I also tell her when
I am on the verge of losing my temper so she can choose (hopefully) to
tone herself down a bit. 6 may be too young and I do worry about
whether my daughter should even have to play a role at all in keeping
me from losing it. 2. I also take breaks and actually leave the room
and tell her I am taking a break. When I do yell at her I almost always
apologize and explain that I was already stressed an that her behavior
bothered me but that my reaction was more about the stress (Of course, I
say it in ways I hope she can understand). 3. Lastly, I have started
used Klonopin (an anti-anxiety med) as needed, and it really helps take
the edge off. Of course, I do not advocate meds for eveyone with a
temper. But I find myself at times made so insane by my kids just being
kids (not listening, whining, etc). I think it is important to examine
your temper in individual counseling so you can really sort things out
and get the support you need and really deal with it head on. I know
stress plays a major role for me as do my hormones. Exercise helps
also. I know it is heartbreaking when you take anger out on kids and I
do think we can stop it but it is very hard. Try not to be too hard on
yourself but continue to seek help and make it a priority.
Please feel free to ask the moderator for my email and maybe we can
support each other and brain storm. anon
I know exactly how you feel. I too have a strong temper and sometimes
respond to my son's normal 4 yr old actions out of anger and regret it
tremendously. Now we have an infant and I have to be SOOO careful not
to put too many unreasonable expectations on him.
What works for me is to ask my husband to hold me accountable for
unreasonable behavior and to remember how my mom dealt with anger so
poorly. I have asked my husband to let me know when I go too far so I
have an adult who will not let me get away with it and it means I have
to apologize to my son when it happens. It comes from my upbringing
where my mom was a rage-aholic. No excuse, but I remind myself that I
don't want my kids to end up being afraid of me. This basically puts
the fear of God in me and helps me to shape up (in addition to my
husband's monitoring.) anon
I feel for you. As someone who has also tossed back the wine in anger,
this parenting gig is not easy. I have no magic, but a few suggestions:
First, love yourself while trying to change. You want to do your best,
and are human like all of us. And like all our parents.
Second, forget about the ''big girl'' concept. I also have kids two
years apart, and that's not much of a difference. Mine are now 13 and
15, and the way I see it now, the blessing I seek is that their needy
periods/crises don't coincide. Sometimes, I take turns neglecting one
while tending to the other. That is fair. Always neglecting the first to
care for the younger will never be. The younger may in fact be a more
sturdy personality, they often are. In any case, she needs to learn the
art of sitting tight while other's needs are met, regardless of her age.
Thirdly, if the elder is whining, it is fair parenting to put a stop to
that. Two ways -- give her more attention. Make a point of elaborately
shouting to the younger in the other room when she calls to you: ''I
can't help you now, I'm helping oldest.
You'll have to wait.'' Wait 2 minutes, then go to youngest. It will
still count with oldest, and will do them both good. Second
way: pretend you are more grown up than you feel and very calmly tell
her you don't like whining. Don't give into it. Ever. Fake more
self-control than you ever thought you would have in a million years. It
will work very fast. If whining is your trigger, focus all your energy
on making it go away -- in that mature parent fashion. It will be really
hard, but it will work, and then your life will be better!
First of all, don't be so hard on yourself. It sounds like you are
really trying to change. One thing I do when I realize I have acted
unreasonably with my kids (ages 3 & 5) is to share with them my
realization and apologize. I may ask them to remind me in a way I know
will help bring me to a calmer place the next time I lose it. ''mommy,
you need some chill time''
etc. As far as the whining goes...''can you please say that like a big
kid?'' A friend of mine made up a song that we use and it works
sometimes ''whining gets you nothing, crying gets you less, asking
nicely does wonders, so try your best..''
Lastly, since you are open to couples counseling, why not go on your
own? It is so worth it if you can find someone good. It might be
helpful in trying to work out why you feel you are being harsher on your
older daughter. Suerte!
I can relate!
i have a short temper when i'm tired/hungry, etc. and take it out on my
husband, sometimes witnessed by our infant son, who sometimes ends up
crying as a result. it makes me sick that i do that.
what i've done lately and seems to be working is i announce to my
husband when i'm getting close to blowing, so he knows to do things to
help me stay/get calm rather than feeding my fire. if i've managed to
remain calm but need to let out the tension/anger/frustration, i do a
primal scream into a pillow in another room (away from hubby and child).
i even did it into my arm when we were in the car this weekend. i feel
much better after that. i still think hearing that might scare my son,
but not as much as seeing/hearing the louder more interactive version.
in the bigger picture, could you have a serious talk with your daughter
about the effect of the whining on you, and ways she could more
effectively communicate? i don't know if she's old enough to understand
that approach. involve your partner in coming up with some solutions!! i
think it sounds like you definitely need some help, and i'm sure other
BPNers will have good suggestions. if i were you, i'd probably need
stress reducers (more time to myself, deep breathing especially in the
moment, yoga, exercise, meditation, etc.).
This sounds so much like what I went through when my kids were about
those ages. (And, yeah, one kid got it more than the
other.) In my case, it was due to a great deal of stress in my life at
the time -- I was recently separated, working full time and caring for
the kids without much help. I got angry with the kids too often and did
too much yelling.
In my case, I was in counselling and my counselor suggested
anti-depressants. I was on them for about a year and it made a lot of
difference in my ability to parent appropriately. Longer term, I had to
make changes in my life to address the sources of the stress, and it
took me a couple of years to be able to look back and realize 1) how
stressed I was and 2)how much it affected me -- at the time, I kept
telling myself how well I was dealing, getting my work done, getting all
the kid-stuff taken care of, keeping on keeping on.
I would return to the issue with your counselor and try specifically to
get to the question of what is stressing you, and how you can change
that (and, if you're comfortable with it, whether medication might help
in the short term).
I wish you the best in dealing with this problem -- props to you for
recognizing that you need to do something Been there done that
Kaiser Oakland (and other Kaiser facilities) has a class in their
behavioral medicine dept that you may want to consider.
It's called ''Mindfulness and meditation''. I recently completed it. I
used it to decrease my anxiety but others who took the class were
dealing with anger, anxiety and/or depression. This class helped us
where other things didn't. It can really help you step outside your
anger and deal with it and reduce it. It takes time and committment,
but it really works. I think the number to call to get more information
or to join the class is 510-752-1075. At Oakland, it's $95 for Kaiser
members and a little more for non-members (don't remember that price).
My teacher was Charlie Johnson and he is great! It's a nine week course.
You are right in that your anger is hard on your children. I think you
need more time to yourself -- saying ''I'm off duty'' and doing
something you feel ok about (an escapist novel? a bath?
going to a cafe and reading the paper?) seems like a good idea.
Also, your children might be at the stage where a good aftercare
program, or longer hours of childcare could help you get time for
yourself, and them be in a safe environment. Maybe this isn't the right
time for them to be in extra activities if it is creating family stress.
The other question I would ask is how is the rest of your life going?
Are you seeing a counselor for yourself (inappropriate anger is a common
sign of depression)? Are you ready to be back at work/or do you need to
work less hours/return to school?
I think kids do constantly test our limits, and the challenge is to find
ways to be there for them, which often means getting more support for
ourselves. I remember when my toddler was driving me crazy (I was
working a 40% schedule), an older friend told me I needed more childcare
when I wasn't working so I could have time for myself. She was right,
and it did help.
The other thing I do, is think, how am I going to feel when my kid is a
teenager, and does this to me -- what they learn from us when they are
young, is what they play back when they are older.
One further point I would make -- As the oldest of a closely spaced
sibling set, I remember being expected to be self-sufficient and helpful
at a very early age; and it cost me a lot of money in therapy to undo
some of that early stress.
Hi. Let me just say that from your description, you sound like the type
of person who is especially hard on yourself. You expect a lot of
yourself probably because a lot was expected of you while you were still
very young. It sounds like you were able to rise to the challenge
because you learn quickly.
However, because you demand so much of yourself and are hard on yourself
when you do not meet your lofty expectations, you are equally demanding
of those around you. It sounds like the anger you feel and express to
your girls is the anger you feel over your disappointment in yourself.
Are you a bit of a perfectionist? You sound somewhat like a
perfectionist. This is a wonderful quality to possess if it is
harnessed and controlled and channeled in a constructive manner.
Otherwise, you end up bitterly disappointed with yourself and others
due to unrealistic expectations.
Anger is not a bad thing. It is a tool. I think of it as a barometer
to point me to where something is not right within me.
You sound like you have not been listening to what your anger is
trying to point you to. Anger can be your friend so long as you are
listening to it rather than lashing out from it.
One last thing as a practical piece of advice, perfectionists tend to
overwhelm themselves and others so you may want to practice staying in
the moment. When your anger flares, in that one moment, choose not to
react 1. because you will only upset your girls, 2. it won't make the
situation any better and 3. your girls will become mirror images of you
in stressful situations.
So, in that moment, stop everything and resist the temptation to speak.
Breathe. In a calm tone and with a calmer heart, practice talking and
listening to your older daughter and her reasons. They may not make
sense to you but just by listening to her you both will connect in a
meaningful way. Love covers a multitude of sins.
Oh, and forgive yourself too. You don't sound like the type who lacks
love, only an objective and sincere look inside.
get yourself a new therapist. I highly reccomend Pete Walker in
Lafayette. I imagine your older daughter reminds you of yourself
somehow, and therefore is able to ''push'' your buttons better than the
younger one. remember, you are doing your best - try not to beat
yourself up -- get a new therapist!
I've got 2 ideas. The first one is practical. There is a great anger
management class (really a short series) run by a woman at Kaiser
Richmond. You don't have to be in Kaiser to be able to attend. My
husband took the class after wanting to deal with his anger, and based
on reviews on BPN. He thought the classes were very useful and not
overdone. Men and women took the class. Many ''average folk'' who just
really wanted to get a handle on their anger and to stop impacting their
families so negatively.
The second thing is to look (if you are interested in this
stuff) into what ''type'' of person you are and what 'type'' of person
your 6 yr old is. SOmewhere on the web I think there is a tool. It
might be a Meyers-Briggs personality tool or something similar. It was
probably something that was previously listed on BPN (anyone out there
have a link?). But it helps you consider your kid's personality and
yours and the likely challenges you may want to be aware of for your
Okay - and one more thing..TRY to remember that she is a kid, too (like
your younger child) and she is likely to do kid-like things (like whine)
even if she is an older sibling; and try to act like an adult (to both
your kids), don't get bogged down in the whine, and try to let it run
off your back. I know it's not easy Another mom who doesn't like
I had a similar situation many years with one of my three children. He was a high strung
child, altho' certainly within normal ranges, but he drove me crazy. I would yell at him &
had begun to swat at him in an most inappropriate way. (He says he doesn't remember this at
all-he was about 9 or so at the time.) I decided I needed to do something on a regular basis
that was not connected with being a mother or a wife & checked out local colleges & went
back to school part-time. I eventually got my degree, changed my life much for the better, &
have really good relationship with my grown children, husband, & grandchildren. Your children
are younger so that may not be an option for you. But you need to have an outlet for that
anger other than your daughter. An routine exercise class you can go to without the kids may
help. Get something you can hit or yell at; there used to be a toy called "boofers" which
were like huge, well-padded swords you could smack hard against any surface & they wouldn't
cause damage. Don't expect your older daughter to be a big help with your younger child; she is
still very young herself. Try to give each child 10 minutes a day alone with you, loving,
cuddling, reading, etc. Use a big clock if need be, so they can tell when you need to stop.
Hope this helps lila
I, too, found I was getting unreasonably angry at one of my children. I took the Anger
Management class several years ago at Kaiser (you don't have to be a member) and it helped
a lot. Anger is a physical reaction as well as an emotional one and you can learn to
recognize when you are about to ''go off'' and prevent it.
I really relate to your submission. My son is beautiful, bright, and totally inclined to nag
and whine me to death. The whining in particular makes me insane and I have totally (and
inappropriately) flown off the handle numerous times in recent months. I've said and done
things I deeply regret. My sister recommended a book that I've found really helpful called
''1-2-3 Magic,'' by Thomas Phelan. It gives a really good management tool for quashing
irritating behaviors in children. What makes me go ballistic is a sense that I am powerless
and being victimized by my kid's behavior. I found that good management tools help me take
back a sense of control (not dictatorship, just appropriate child-management)and prevent me
from losing my temper. I don't believe we as parents have to tolerate whining (or at least
we can keep in to a minimum.) anon
It seems you got a lot of good advice from BPN members. One easy, small addition to other
things you may do: Read the book Kids, Parents and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime
by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka (bad title, good book). It will help you identify your temperment,
the temperment of your children, and how best to deal with everyone's temperments so you all
get what you need and so you take care of each other emotionally, and teach your children
emotional intelligence. It will help you deal with your children when they whine and when
you are angry.
It's a GREAT book
You've already got a lot of really great advice about many aspects of your post, and I
know this is over a month after you wrote, but I'm assuming that it might still be
useful, because anger management and dealing with whining are unfortunately long term
issues and not resolved over night. First I wanted to counter 1 or 2 posters' points
about the damage you've done to your children. Yes, it is important to control your
anger and it can have long term consequences, but it is not too late and it doesn't
sound like any irreparable damage has been done. My father had a very short temper,
yelled and even hit me and seemed out of control much of the time until I was out of
high school. Yet I learned to stand up to him and became a strong person maybe because
of it. When I was in college my parents divorced and my dad calmed down and now he is
a great dad and a really great grandpa and we couldn't ask for a better relationship.
I think the key thing, and here is where my advice to you comes in, is that I always
knew that he thought very highly of me: that I am smart and beautiful and a good
person with unique qualities. Other people have encouraged you to apologize for your
outbursts and take responsibility for them, and that is important (although don't
force her to forgive you before she's ready, as my dad did!) but more important is
that you let her know often that you think she is great, that your anger is your
issuee and it doesn't affect your love and appreciation for your children. Kids are
very resilient, and I'm sure yours will be fine, esp if you start working on this now
(much earlier than my dad did!). So don't beat yourself up.
--also short-tempered, but learning patience
At the risk of bringing up a very personal subject for many of us, I'd
like to ask for insight into how other parents cope with their own
feelings of anger toward their kids. I love my kids madly, but just
imagine the end of a long work-day, pulling into the driveway, dinner
needing preparation, one kid runs one way, the other goes the other
direction, and I'm already tired and this just does not bring out the
best in me. I am really dedicated to mindful, conscious, gentle
parenting, and understand the value of their seeing a healthy model
for the expression and resolution of anger. Yet when I get even slightly
angry, I feel somehow that I'm failing them. I'd really appreciate
any comments or experiences any one had has on their parenting journey
with this subject. Thank you.
What I did in that specific case during one trying period was to bring
snacks in the car and then spend 15 minutes reading together as soon as
we got home. It made it easier to reconnect, made my son feel like he'd had
enough quality attention to hold him til dinner, and was even quite
sweet for me. The committed time was something for him to look forward to and
Other times I take time out myself when frustrated; try to remind myself
what he might be going through, and lately, try to head it off at the
pass by having a short snuggle - which isn't all that much different than
what I used to do with the reading.
I just read the most fabulous Anne Lamott essay on this subject in the new
book "Mothers Who Think" which is a compilation of really terrific essays
from the column of the same name on salon.com. I looked up her essay from
the book ("Mother Rage: Theory and Practice"), and you can find it on-line
at: http://salon.com/mwt/lamo/1998/10/29lamo.html. I really love this
essay - it actually brought up old memories of my mother, as well as
reminding me of myself now. I suddenly found the memories of how I was
treated as a child to be very healing, in that it's remarkably helpful to
have a clear memory of being yelled at, and how scary that was. One of my
favorite lines towards the end is: "Good therapy helps. Good friends
help. Pretending that we are doing better than we are doesn't. Shame
doesn't. Being heard does." No kidding. I think reading good books &
getting some perspective helps too, also hanging on to your sense of
humor, & not beating yourself up. On the practical "self-help" side,
another book I recently picked up is "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and
Listen so Kids Will Talk" (Faber & Mazlish). Amazingly, it's been coming
in very handy so far. Also by the same authors is "Siblings Without
Rivalry". Sounds impossible (ridiculous?), but both books have great
advice for handling our own behavior towards our kids - the ONLY thing we
really can control. And our personal improvements have got to improve the
whole family system eventually. Best wishes to all of us!!
A good, practical book on just this subject is Nancy Samalin's "Love and
Anger- The Parental Dilemma".
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