Do you react with anger when your children or grandchildren exasperate you? Before I had children I used to think, “I’ll never shout or get angry with my kids, instead I’ll reason or try to explain the situation to them” Ha!
I must have an overactive grump gland because when my kids annoy me, my first response is to give them the Rottweiler response – snarling and barking. But my anger must be broken or something because it never delivers the results I want it to.
Very seldom after telling my kids off, do they come back to me and say, “Thank you for that telling off. That’s just what we needed to get back onto the right path.” If I use anger in my voice, it doesn’t matter how right I am and how wrong they are – they don’t get the point. They don’t hear my words; they just feel my heat. Sometimes it brings out the fight in them, other times it will crush them down. Either way, the relationship is dented and the lesson has been lost.
Years ago, when I worked at a hospital, I ran down a corridor and collided with a nurse. “Only run for fire and hemorrhages!” she scolded me. What wise advice! I’ve tried to remember that. If I discover the kids doing something that really gets up my nose, I ask myself “Is there smoke? Is there blood? No? Then I don’t have to respond immediately.” I know that if I respond in the first roaring surge of anger, I’ll regret it. I take a step back, take a few deep breaths, and then try and respond more creatively.
One final thing about anger – getting a grip on mine is helping me to coach my kids to handle theirs. They got their temper from my genes, but hopefully, they will get the controls for it from my example. I’ll be so mad at them if they don’t.
By John Cowan, The Parenting Place
Improving and equipping families to thrive.
Read more from John and The Parenting place here.