Your kid is yelling at you and every thing you try to say just makes things worse. Before you know it, you are yelling back just as much and the whole situation has dissolved into a horrible horrible day.
This situation is quite common although you won’t think it is common because this type of behavior is usually reserved for parents and usually happens in the house. So you might feel like you are in a boat all by yourself, but let me tell you, anger is normal, anger is part of life and you are not alone. There are several things we can do to help deal with anger:
Food and Sleep
This is true for everyone including adults: when we are hungry or tired, we are more prone to anger. If you are dealing with more emotions than normal, start working on a better sleep plan and a better eating plan. These are both big tasks so don’t expect changes overnight but good sleep and full bellies will help a lot with big emotions.
Make a Plan
When everyone is sitting at the dinner table, talk about a plan for the anger. What are some strategies? Have everyone go around the table and talk about what helps them feel better when they are angry. It won’t be the same for everyone so any idea is welcome as long as everyone is safe. So taking space is a great idea but running away doesn’t feel safe and shouldn’t be considered an option.
The Brain Can’t Function During the Anger
There is a great podcast called brains on that has an episode about anger and they talk a little bit about the science behind anger and that it is part of our evolutionary survival. They talk about how your brain goes into fight, flight or hide when you are angry. This means that the brain isn’t in the problem solving part of the brain and can’t listen to mom or dad trying to fix the problem.
So when your brain is in the fight, flight or hide part, don’t try to talk or solve the problem. Let the feeling run its course and be there to keep everyone safe.
So we all lose it at some point. Maybe we decided that we were going to take a deep breath when we got angry and that didn’t actually happen. Maybe your kiddo said that they wanted to take space when they got angry and instead they went and hit something. It happens. But circle back after everyone is calm again and talk about it. Why was it so hard to take a deep breath? If we feel better when we hit something rather than taking space, maybe we should set up a soft place where we can hit pillows? Keep the dialogue going and don’t worry that there was a setback. There will be millions of setbacks. Debriefing about them afterwards is where the learning happens.
Anger is a Normal Part of Life
Although it is important to find ways to calm ourselves, we don’t need to punish ourselves or our children for getting angry. I see this as a common reaction to anger- getting even more upset and then yelling at children for getting angry. But that doesn’t make any sense. We all get angry. Anger is a normal part of life.