We really do plan to be good parents. We go into parenthood hoping to make our children’s lives as wonderful as possible and help them grow into well-balanced adults. We promise ourselves that we’ll take deep breaths and reason with them, rather than resort to the kind of discipline we’ve seen other parents (maybe even our own) deliver. And then it all falls apart.

So when our little boy or our teenage daughter throws a fit and starts yelling at us, what do we do? We demand they change their behavior, and before we know it, we do it by yelling back. Now stop and think for a moment: do you remember any time in your life when yelling caused another person to calm down and relax? Do you remember a single time when shouting “Stop crying!” actually led a child to stop crying? Has yelling “Sit down and behave!” ever transformed a tantrum-throwing toddler into a calm child?

We’d like to be perfect parents, but we’re human. Children haven’t developed the coping mechanisms that they should gain through maturity, so when they find themselves in an overwhelming situation, they respond emotionally. If they’re disappointed, they may have a meltdown. If they’re angry, they may lash out physically. It’s uncomfortable to witness their behavior, especially in an embarrassingly public setting, so we may respond in similar ways.

There’s a problem. Our children learn from what they observe. Our behavior becomes their model for how adults handle situations. If we swear when something goes wrong, we shouldn’t be surprised when we hear obscenities from their mouths. If we yell when we don’t get our way, guess what they’re going to do? If we bully or denigrate our spouses, guess how the kids will treat each other or their friends?

How we manage our children’s anger is a large part of what will determine how they handle their own situations. Is it easy? No, but it’s very important. Fortunately, there are practical and constructive approaches parents can use to address anger and meltdowns. I’m going to discuss several of them at the next installment of our Summer Parenting Series next Tuesday, June 18th at time 7 p.m.. I’ll share better ways to help your kids manage anger, and to help you keep your cool when they act out.

There’s no cost for this informative workshop, but we only have a limited number of seats, so we ask that you reserve your place. Prefer a more personal approach? Contact us to set a time to sit down and discuss your child’s anger with one of our counselors. Either way, taking a positive step will help your child take the right step, too.

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