Angry Parents, Angry Kids – Breaking The Cycle
I had two kids under two, and it was taking a toll on me. I was angry all the time. Parenting is hard even with one toddler; add in a baby and things go practically crazy. I had a short fuse. I am an impatient person by nature, and have always liked things going my way. With kids, that doesn’t happen. They are humans after all. They may be an extension of your own self, but they aren’t you. And since young children are forever curious, they do push and test boundaries too. It is inevitable, something you can’t control. But what you can control is your reaction.
Read More: Discipline and Abuse – Where’s The Line?
My journey on this path began when it struck me that I was being a horrible person for scolding my kids for things that were innately in their nature. I did a mad google search for books on positive parenting, bought them, read them cover to cover. But simply reading these books doesn’t do much. You truly have to understand the cycle and try to work on it actively. It is a long process, doesn’t happen overnight. You fail multiple times too. Then revisit your learning, zero down on what went wrong and re do the entire process. It will be safe to say that it is a learned behavior. Not all good parents are born that way, but all parents can certainly be made good, if they want to work on themselves.
The first step to this is to understand the cycle. If you really sit down to think, this is how most scenarios play out:
Stage 1: Your child does something that is sure to tick you off.
Stage 2: You get angry
Stage 3: You nag/shout/yell/scream
Stage 4: Your child gets angry/rebellious and tantrums exceed
When this cycle keeps on repeating, you both end up in a horrible place, where the slightest thing will put you both on edge, ready to explode.
Stage 1 is something you have no control over. Kids being kids, are bound to test limits. So we will put that to the side for now.
Stage 2 is also a very natural response. Being angry is fine. We’ll talk about this later too, since learning not to be angry takes time, I am still working on it.
Stage 3 is what you need to work on first. Your reaction is the only thing you can actively control in this entire situation. And with it, you can indirectly control Stage 3.
For now all you need to do is recognize patterns.
Think of the last time you burst out
- Split it up into the 4 stages – what was your child’s behavior, what were your feelings, how did you respond and how did your child respond to your behavior?
- Next, forgive yourself for your reaction. Shit happens. You won’t get anywhere by feeling sorry or feeling guilty.
- Think of how your reaction could have been different. Try coming up with two or more responses. So that next time something like this happens, you are more prepared.
- Finally, think about how the whole episode could have been prevented in the first place.
When I first started this exercise, I realized the reason my child was acting out was because he wanted attention. Spending more one on one time drastically reduced him doing things he had been told not to.
Once you have identified and pondered over these steps, you will be ready to move on to the next; controlling your reaction.