Let’s start off by acknowledging the truth…. all parents get angry at their kids. I do, you do, we all do. We love em’ to death, but our kids know how to push all the right buttons, at just the right time, to make us go through the roof!  

I said it, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. What I do sometimes feel guilty about, however, is how I handle the anger when it comes. I’ve been thinking a lot about anger management for parents lately. I’ve also been paying attention to my own actions, and I don’t always like what I see.

Anger Management For Parents

Deep down, I know that yelling at my kids isn’t going to help the situation. It only escalates it further. And hitting is just a giant NO for me, particularly after reading an article in Psychology Today  that discusses multiple research studies which conclude spanking doesn’t effectively change behavior. It actually causes more long-term harm than good.

So what’s a mom (or dad) to do when you start to feel intense anger towards your child? Personally, I had to learn that even though my kid’s behavior is triggering me in the moment, it doesn’t cause my response. How I react is completely up to me. This puts the control factor squarely back in my court.

Even more importantly, I realized that how I deal with my own anger serves as a way to teach anger management skills for kids. Do I want to model a scary screaming mommy that’s mean and threatening? Or a mommy who acknowledges something is wrong, and handles it in a calm and deliberate manner? I’m shooting for the latter. I’m sure that when you’re looking for ways to deal with anger, you’re shooting for the same.

Here’s a couple of anger management strategies for parents that have helped me in my never-ending quest to become a more calm and collected mom. And they work (most of the time). They’ve certainly helped me improve my parent game and they might do the same for you when you get angry at your kids.

Make A Commitment

Step one in my anger management for parents plan was to decide upfront what I wasn’t going to do. For me that meant no hitting, no swearing, no calling my kids names.  And I repeat this promise to myself over and over, so that in the heat of the moment it becomes automatic. I recently added “no screaming” to the list, but I’ll be the first to admit that goal is still a work in progress. But just by adding no screaming to the list I have gotten significantly better.

Deep Breath and ‘Shake It Off’ Technique

No, this isn’t a Taylor Swift thing. When I feel anger starting to bubble up… I take a big, deep breath (you can’t yell when you’re doing this) and then I shake my hands and arms as I exhale to release the tension. If things are particularly bad, I may do this more than once before I react.

My kids now recognize this ‘breathe and shake’ move and know it’s a sign that mommy’s mad. They also know if they see this move they better calm down or leave the room… which is an added bonus!

Make a Mommy Mantra

In yoga, a mantra can help you focus during meditation and calm your mind. This is the same concept applied to anger management for parents. Come up with a short phrase, when you’re not angry, that you can repeat in your head when your blood starts to boil in order to calm yourself down.

I personally like “I’m mad at the situation, not the child”. I have a friend who swears by “I’m the adult, I’m in control”. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as the mantra works for you. Repeat it in your mind the next time you get angry at your kids.

Take Five Before Punishment

I’ve found that in the heat of the moment, I may not be thinking completely rationally (shocker!).  As a result, the punishment I give my kids might not fit the crime. A big part of anger management for parents is not being crazy and reactive.

So if I am still seeing red, I give myself a little time out and say something like “I’m too angry to talk about this now, but we’ll discuss it later”. Then I take five. Trust me, this helps. Next time you get angry at your kids, take a little break before deciding on consequences.

Positive Discipline

This last one is a work in progress, and was inspired by an episode of Supernanny that I watched (thanks Jo!). Her anger management for parents trick is to let your child know what they DID was wrong without telling them that they ARE wrong.  It’s a subtle shift, but it makes a big difference. You focus on the what rather than the who.

It works like this, instead of saying “you’re a bad boy for hitting your sister” or “you’re mean for hitting”, you say “hitting isn’t kind and it’s not okay”.  See the difference? You can change the behavior without undermining your child’s self esteem. It’s a win-win!

One final thing I feel compelled to say, if you continually have problems controlling your anger around your kids, or you resort to hitting, then please consider getting anger counseling or other professional help. There is no shame in taking anger management classes to help get your anger in check. Stopspanking.org is one place you can start. You can also try reading books on anger management for parents to help.

Know any other anger management for parents strategies that really work?  Share your thoughts and comments in our Parenting Community!

Also In Beenke: Anger Management Skills For Kids