April is Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect Month. Family stress reduction is at the heart of preventing child abuse and neglect. With the support they need, nearly all parents can help their children learn, grow, and thrive.
Research from Parents as Teachers names the following parent health habits that can help manage anger in a more positive manner.
Anger is a natural emotion. If you think you’ll lose control of your anger:
• Stop and take a few deep breaths
• Become aware of your thoughts
• Think before you say or do anything
• Try to avoid situations that trigger your anger
• Take a time out, if you need to. If you leave, be sure your child is safe with a trusted adult
• Talk calmly and respectfully
• Ask for help
Your child’s anger may trigger your own. How you respond can affect both of you. These tips can help everyone stay in control:
• Practice listening. Your child may not be upset with you. They may be angry about something that happened to them. Listen without interrupting. You may find out your child needs your help
• Turn your anger into communication. Use a conflict with your child as an opportunity to express feelings in a calm and respectful way
• Remember, it is rarely personal. Your child’s anger may have nothing to do with you
• If you realize you’ve upset your child, offer a sincere apology
Teach your child anger management skills.
Help your child say, “I’m angry!” If you notice your child clenching fists or kicking things. Help them put feelings into words. Calmly say, “You seem angry or upset.”
Try to get them to talk about why they are angry. Also, help them learn their anger triggers – such as being treated unfairly – and how to avoid or control them.
Teach them how to relax. Encourage them to take slow, deep breaths or count to 10 or higher. Remind them to always breathe deeply when angry or frustrated.
Stop your child when they throw things, yell or hit others.
Teach that it’s OK to feel angry, yet it’s not OK to destroy things or hurt others.
Seek counseling or other professional help if you feel your child’s anger may become self-destructive.
Create positive outlets for feelings. Introduce your child to sports, exercise, music, painting, writing and other activities. Be sure to consult their healthcare provider before starting an exercise program
Explore other ways to express your feelings. For example: Write in a journal or diary. Write a letter. You don’t have to send it. Paint a picture. Find support. It may help to talk with people you know care about you. This may include, family and friends, co-workers, a leader at your place of worship, a parent support group, or a trained counselor.
Practice healthy habits – it can help you deal with anger. Stay physically active. Eat well. Try to decrease your caffeine. Get enough sleep. Learn to relax. Simple relaxation techniques can help you calm down when you’re angry. Breath slow, deep breaths from your stomach. Visualization-creating a peaceful scene in your mind.
Learn healthy ways to express anger – talk in a calm and respectful way. Communicate your thoughts clearly. Avoid using words that may hurt someone else’s feelings.
If you feel angry – Calm down. Count to 10 or higher. Take deep breaths. Stretch and relax tense muscles. Call a friend. Listen to soothing music. Go for a walk or some other form of exercise.
Sandy Block-Hansen is the Family Footprints coordinator at CHI St. Francis Health, a Catholic Health Initiative Mission and Ministry program created to support, inform and offer resources to parents in the role of parenting. She can be reached at [email protected] or 218-643-0475