Parents' Anger towards Kids
- Becoming a parent I hate to be
- Constantly stressed and short-tempered with older daughter
- How do you cope with anger toward your kids?
I'm turning too frequently into the parent I never wanted to be: yelling, infuriated at silly things, sarcastic, desperate, emotionally frozen. My kids (4, 7) aren't even that bad, although they have their share of normal sibling bickering and teasing and hypersensitivity toward each other's presumed intentions. But I am getting so wound up so easily these days at things that are frustrating but actually shouldn't matter so much (e.g. toys all over the floor, clothes strewn about house) that I am starting to worry this is the new normal -- a period of calm and quiet and then mom exploding at everyone. I feel like a rock that is being molded by a slow drip-drip into something new. And I feel that now I've opened the door to being a yeller and meanie there's ''no point'' closing it again -- but that it might also stay open longer and longer. I even stopped drinking coffee because it made me prone to being more frantic and jittery with the kids.
The other day we were out and I was mad -- not yelling but very frustrated -- at one of the kids for not eating his lunch but demanding a treat. My husband had been elsewhere with the other kid and when we met up he immediately remarked that I looked really, really angry -- it's certainly how I felt but I'm feeling really bummed that I was wearing my anger on my face so clearly. How depressing for me, the kids, anyone who happened to see us. Do I need to see a therapist (would it help? Who should I see?)? How can I readjust my expectations and image of myself? I know I can work on my relationship with my kids more easily than I can adjust my sense of who I am for and with them.
Anyone else been there? Don't want to be a meanie anymore
Yes, see a therapist! The Psychology Today Find a Therapist website allows you to enter search terms (location, insurance provider, etc.) and find different therapists--they've each written an informational blurb about their expertise and those are very informative, and you can go a little further and yelp or find a website if you want even more information beforehand. Look for folks who specifically address parenting issues.
It is really, really hard to be a mom. There's not much room for ''me'' outside of wife and mommy anymore, so it's pretty luxurious to have an hour a week to sit and cry and complain and demand all eyes on me, and have somebody tell me that it's okay and normal and I'm doing just fine. I also appreciate my therapist's expertise and push-back/challenge when I'm struggling through particular parenting issues.
I'd also suggest you find some way to charge your batteries: I find that my own snippy-ness and anger is a good sign that I need a few hours of perfect quiet and no responsibility, and my husband has learned that it's worth the inconvenience to get the ''real'' me back! I do the same for him, though his manifests differently (tuning out, rather than short fuse). Take some care of you!
Here's an article that I read about 9 months ago, when I was going thru exactly what you describe. I hated the tone that I was setting for my family and realized that my kids would actually tremble when they saw me getting frustrated or angry. It wasn't a healthy situation for anyone.
I realized that I needed to change and that I needed help to do that. I started taking Celexa and our family life is much more tolerable...for everyone! Meds aren't for everyone, but when my behavior started affecting others, I didn't think I had time to mess around. Good luck. Greenzebra
Your post resonated with me because I had a cranky mom whom I resented for too many years. I fear being like her and having my kids feel that way about me. My kids are also 4 and 7, and overall nice kids. here are some things I try and/or deal with; I'll number them for easier organization:
1. I NEED to exercise at least three times a week. Vigorously.
2. At almost 42, I feel subtle signs of perimenopause: increased moodiness, A friend, who is a naturopath suggested a concoction called PMS Emotional by Wishgarden. I cannot attest to how it works yet, but I hope it smooths some of these edges.
2. My mom was the primary disciplinarian. Now, I am actually sometimes not tough enough with my own kids, for fear of being resented. My husband sometimes feels like the bad cop to my good. I find that when I take a deep breath, set a firm rule, and stand by it, my kids actually treat me better after a few days of clear expectations. A book called 1,2,3 Magic gave me some ideas about counting to three and then disciplining kids. I needed a framework, a plan set up ahead of time, for how I would navigate frustrating moments with the kids. The hardest part was to follow it. I want the consequence to be about them, not my frustration.
3. I do not drink, even a little bit, on weeknights. I find it makes me more prone to being short-tempered.
4. You know how distraction is a strategy to deal with a crying or stubborn toddler? I try to use that on myself. When I feel the boil start inside, I change the flow, turn the topic to someone else. I ask a kid about his/her day, what book they liked lately, what happened in their cartoon earlier, anything to get me away from that feeling and to hopefully change the temperature. I feel more comfortable disciplining once I feel I have grounded myself and tried a positive approach.
I think you will get some other really helpful responses, and maybe some of this will help. It was therapeutic for me to type it up. Maybe that's another strategy! You must be doing a million things ''right'' if your kids are fine, which you say they are. We all have tarnished spots, and maybe the trick is to stop rubbing at it so hard and look at the shiny bits iamnoddy
I really identify with your concerns and hope you get some helpful responses. I have found that yelling at my kids is totally ineffective yet I too struggle to maintain composure sometimes and find myself saying mean things. Just want you to know that you're not alone, but it's still not right. I have noticed that when my level of stress (finances, work, relationship with husband, etc) is lower I tend to be a nicer mom. another one
I hear you! This is something I have dealt with throughout all my parenting years. I was fine when it was just one kid, but two and then three somehow pushed me past the point where my threshold for reacting shifted - a lot. Good for you for recognizing your issue and for wanting to change.
My answer is simple. I get acupuncture once a week. It absolutely and profoundly changes my capacity to deal with stress, anxiety, anger -- especially the stress of raising three kids. Everybody notices the difference. And they notice if I DON'T get my weekly treatment, too! I would never be able afford weekly acupuncture if it weren't for community acupuncture. I only pay $15 each visit. I go to Berkeley Acupuncture Project in downtown Berkeley, but there are several in the East Bay and SF. They only charge on a sliding scale that you choose to pay from. It's the most blissful hour to myself and it has made all the difference in the world for me.
Good luck! Poked and Patient Mama
Yes, I have been there... and left! It takes time and effort, but it's possible: if I did it, you can too, no doubt. I hated to see myself turning in one of my parents (I had to learn it somewhere, no?) so I imposed myself to do absolutely nothing when the anger boiled up and to think how I felt when the roles where reversed. Then I thought what I would have wanted when I was the child.
Very hard in the beginning, and I wasn't always successful. It got better with time. And I started realize that many things that made me mad were really nothing to care about, so it got even easier. Not to scare you, but it did take years to get to a point where it really doesn't come as a natural reaction any longer. However, along the way, every time that I was able to stop myself from going into ' anger autopilot', I felt happy and encouraged, so you get some rewards along the road. Full disclaimer here: I'm not the image of calm and patience, but I can deal better with my impatience and I'm not triggered nearly as much as I was years back.
Cherry on top is that my life with less anger is a much happier life too!! Best wishes
I could had written your post few years ago! Instead of being calm and loving I felt angry, frustrated and overwhelmed. I felt like my head was about to explode and I needed to yell to my two young kids.
I actually got help from acupuncture. I had never done it before and went in for other reasons but boy did it help with my moods! My acupuncturist told me that anger, irritability and explosiveness are symptoms of liver imbalance. I got treatment and have felt so much better ever since. I still take herbs and go in for an occasional fix-up. Easy and cheap. Before trying acupuncture I honestly thought that my only chance to change would be years of therapy.
The hardest part probably is to forgive myself that I spent so much precious time being so angry and frustrated. I'm working on being able to let it go and being kinder to myself.
I have also started to take better care of myself. Sleeping enough, eating regularly and having personal time without kids. Seems simple but was hard for me to put into practice. I have focused on other people's (my kids) need for years, now it's time to take equally good care myself. anon
Reading your post I so recognized myself, there were many times when I thought I was turning into my father-grumpy, short tempered, demanding, and kind of insane. I knew I wasn't completely off my rocker since I had the ability to notice my behavior, apologize, and ask the Universe for help. My children are now in their 20's and we're a close loving family, we laugh a lot when revisiting the past. I got one of the biggest gifts, when I realized that I could just be human, not pretend that I was some supermom. I've had the privilege of having adult children who tell me how much they respected my parenting.
I think the times when I was less of a mother than I wanted to be, I was overwhelmed by responsibility, fearful, and resentful. I was in an unhappy marriage, and feeling kind of stuck in it. This may not be the case for you, but I wonder what's eating you. In my experience these behaviors rarely exist in a vacuum. I know that when I start to get picky, judgmental and difficult there's something going on that I need to address. I learned that I don't need to say what I'm thinking, that I need to focus on me. This is pretty hard to do when you have little ones, but it's not impossible. My advice to you: regularly take some time for you, make a list of what's bothering you, what you change, and what you might have to accept. Wishing you peace. been there
I could have written your post a few years ago. Then I went on Zoloft for post-partum depression following the birth of my third child. The unexpected benefit was I stopped getting angry at everyone. I'm relaxed, my resentment has evaporated and my relationship with my husband is as good as when we dating.
I've tried to go off several times, but within several weeks Im back to screaming at everyone. So with my doctor's blessing I remain on a low dose. It has changed my life.
Good luck finding the right solution for you. Zoloft Lifer
I'm sorry you are having such a difficult time and applaud you seeking a change. You deserve it, as does your whole family. I would encourage you to check out Raising Happiness at http://www.raisinghappiness.com/ There is a book and an online class that is very accessible and designed to be convenient for busy parents. Hope you find this helpful and that you persist until you find what works for you. wishing you well
Hello, I recently had many of the same thoughts as you, and wanted to learn how to control my anger and become a better mom. I searched the anger sections of the BPN archives and found a therapist who has really helped me. I feel so much more hopeful now. I recommend looking into therapy. It takes time and money, but for me it has been a very worthwhile investment. I had previously read some anger management books that were helpful, but talking to a professional really helped me figure out things that I couldn't have figured out on my own. don't want to be a meanie either
Kids push us to the limit sometimes. Part of that is helping your kids get more mellow and part of it is recognizing that being angry in front of your kids occassionally gives them permission to feel, and a view that all emotions are OK.
If your hubby noted that you looked mad, you could have asked him for a hug to help you calm down. That would be a wonderful way to show your kids a positive resolution to some of life's harder to swallow feelings. grandchild of an angry parent, child of one who tried to be better and sometimes got it
I found this book ''How to Stop the Battle With Your Children'' by Don Fleming http://www.amazon.com/How-Stop-Battle-Your-Child/dp/0671763490 to be extremely helpful for me. He gives great ideas for strategies you can use to help both you and your kids understand that they are pushing a limit BEFORE you actually reach that limit (and thus start yelling/getting super angry/etc).
One of the best suggestions he had, in my mind, was about TALKING to your kids about how you want to help them understand that when you say something, you mean it, and that you also want change the way you act when they don't seem to be listening to you. He suggests basically setting a-priori rules about how many ''chances'' the kids get to listen to you before a pre-determined consequence, that is non-negotiable, is invoked. It takes effort, but it really made a big difference in my household!
No, you do not have to ''be a yeller''. And you're not alone - every parent struggles with how to best manage those moments of incredible frustration.
It's actually very helpful that there is a part of you that is aware that you overreact, even though you get caught up in the feelings at the moment.
A good and easy place to start is medical - have you had a checkup lately for thyroid, hormone levels, a review of any meds you are on, getting enough sleep? My physician colleagues say that a high thyroid level, for example, can show up as increased crankiness. Next, are there other stresses in your life that weren't there four or so years ago - besides having kids of course - that are driving this?
If not, I'd suggest both neurofeedback and thinking about/learning some new parenting strategies. Neurofeedback can help you train your brain to stay in a calmer, more relaxed state. Clarity about your parenting values, rules and strategies can give you something to lean on when your kids push your buttons. Maybe it's helpful to realize that in a way it's their *job* to push your buttons - to test the world, see what's okay, and to let you know what's going on inside them (kids don't have the words to describe it, so they ''show'' it).
For the frustrating times, it helps to have some tools in your pocket that can not only direct them, but also to help them learn to regulate their emotions and reactions. When that happens, you can get the cycle going in the other direction - you help them get calmer, so less buttons pushed and you get calmer, so you can better help them...etc. Pat [at] LadouceurMFT.com
Hi Mom! First, take a deep breath! There IS a way to turn it around, really! I imagine you are feeling overwhelmed and out of sorts. Adding some organization/structure to your day will help set expectations for (you and) the kids. Do you have any planned ''time outs'' for yourself? Julie
Dear Mom, I admire you for your wisdom, honesty, and desire to change. Your kids are lucky to have you.
Parenting is the most difficult job you will ever have. Our kids drive us crazy yet we love them dearly, more than they will ever know. And we never know if how we're raising them is right until years after the fact.
My kids are now 18 and 16,and absolutely wonderful. I've done so things the ''wrong'' way but somehow they remember they good. Don't be too hard on yourself. Get the help you need for you, your kids, and family. Nancy
This is not the end of the story! Please be kind to yourself, just the fact that you see what you are doing and don't want to do it is HUGE! Yes, get therapy - it helps! I completely understand your post - things that have helped me - therapy, letting go of my own agenda with the kids, letting myself be awed by them - watch the youtube video called ''The Gift of An Ordinary Day'' watch it everyday, let it remind you of how precious this time is! You are trying - you just need some help - I wish you all the best! also angry sometimes
Been there still doing that.
We have a 5 and 8 y.o. I realized that I see other families in the USA having similar problems but now I cannot recall seeing it happen in the part of Europe we visited this year. In that country our friends go to work at 8 take a break in the morning, take an hour for lunch and stop work at 5 (I'm in the same line of work and put in 50 to 60 hrs a week as do colleagues here). They take a full vacation of several weeks adding up to a month over the year with all the work left behind. The children walk to school by themselves. Sunday, everything is closed and it is a time to spend with the family. Their children have sibling arguments, the parents let them work it out saying it is natural for children to argue they are fine, the children also understand that certain things are not acceptable and will not be tolerated and the children follow the set rules. The parents somehow manage not to yell or blow up at their children. They treat them as little adults guiding them as if they are co-workers being trained for a job. It seems to work.
Take home message, the bay area is a high stress two income 60 hour work week place and add children to this. Everyone thinks the other families are perfect and we try to be perfect as well. We cannot control and force things to be perfect. glenn
Are you getting enough sleep? I was really feeling mean and I know what you mean about frozen--I just had so little to give. I felt the kids were taking and taking and bickering and wanting dessert AGAIN when they hadn't had lunch. After reading the Nurture Shock chapter on sleep I decided my kids were getting enough sleep, but my husband wasn't. To help him I started to go to bed between 9 and 10. I never would have guessed how much it would help me. I am so much happier and better able to be there for the kids and not just angry and wiped out all the time. I'd always thought being a bit tired was ok, since I needed that alone time after they went to bed. But it turned out that actual sleep was much more restorative than anything I did after the kids went to bed. Hoping you get lots of good advice from others, and also, some good long nights' sleep. early to bed
I want to send you love and support and encouragement. Basically, you are describing the frustrations that come with being a mom to young kids. It changes us. It really does. We are tested in ways we never imagined, and sometimes it shows on our angry, frustrated faces.
I wonder if you have a life outside your family. That can go such a long way to making things feel better. if you are a SAHM, your identity can get caught up in how the kids are doing, what they are eating, how they are behaving. But they are their own little people who will continue to grow in their independence - and defiance of you. The best thing for you to do is to let go of some of your expectations and turn to your own interests and perhaps professional accomplishments. That is what you can control.
Also, remind yourself to take more of your kids' defiance in stride - he didn't want lunch? Oh well! No treats, no snacks, until the next meal! Any other topics??? That kind of thing. Save your sanity.
Good luck to you, and looking to see what others advise. anon
I would appreciate advice: 1. I'm consistently stressed and short-tempered, and 2. one of my daughters triggers me more than the other, so she catches the worst of my black moods.
My girls are nearly 6 and 4. I have had a particularly stressful year, with multiple extended-family illnesses and deaths. That said, I have always been short-tempered--not just this year--and my family suffers because of it. (Only my very most intimate, oldest friends know about my ugly temper. For the most part, I take it out at home--and on telemarketers!)
My husband and I are in counseling. We're actually in good shape; the counseling came about because of standard what-happened-to-our-passion-from-eight-years-ago-before-kids stuff. We address my temper in our sessions, and overall my husband feels I'm doing better. But, honestly, I don't feel I'm doing well enough.
Sometimes I get so angry I can't behave like an adult, and when I see how it effects my kids I'm horrified. Sometimes I scream and scare them; sometimes I just get immensely frustrated by small things that ought not to be a big deal--and it must just wear my kids out worrying about whether they're going to set me off.
Last week I was so pissed by my older daughter's whining and inability to stick with a dance class (which she's been in all year) that I drove the kids home in silence after the class, walked into the house, shouted to my husband that I was off duty, and went out on our deck and drank three glasses of wine in half an hour. (Generally, I don't drink.)
I just wish I could stop myself from getting so angry to start with. It's the big girl's whining that most frequently sets me off--and part of me thinks she just needs more attention (but I need her to be the big girl so that I can attend to her younger sister...)
I dunno. I haven't done a good job at teasing out my own strands. But I weep when I see my kids' faces after I've chastised them over nothing, and I'm not getting concrete help even from a good therapist.
Does anyone on this list have some other magic--or some other hard work--to suggest? Wish I could grow up
Hi, I totally empathize with you - becoming a mother - let alone mother of 3! has brought out some really terrible short tempered behavior on my part.
There is a wonderful therapist named David Siegel who writes about the relationship between the brain and mental wellness and I recently saw him speak.
What he says is that it is normal and expected that we all ''lose it'' once in a while so don't go beating yourself up over it. The KEY and important thing to remember is that you HAVE TO REPAIR IT. That is - apologize to your kid, talk to them and say, ''i am so sorry i was yelling earlier, i was angry about X, that probably scared you...'' and then your child will not be so traumatized by the event itself. He is an amazing speaker and author - and has a parenting book called Parenting from Within.
Aside from that - i would try to find ''tools'' you can use to calm yourself down and gain perspective to intervene on your own behalf before your kids grow up thinking their mom is a grump. There is a good book called buddhism for mothers...not dogmatic, just practical and an easy read.
I think we often expect too much of the older child and the advice I've always heard is to shower the older one with attention (as often as you can) because they most often lose out because of the needs of the younger one.
Also, i think we expect too much once they become verbal (like past age 3) and think that correlates with maturity and understanding - but they are still often totally confused by our actions and what we ask of them. Good luck to you - Remember how much you love your kids and go back to that place when you find yourself at wits end short tempered too
Have you considered grief counseling? My father died when I was pregnant with child #2 and child #1 was 2 1/2. I found myself constantly blowing up at my son and shocked afterward at how angry I was getting with his 2 year old behavior. I chalked it up to his age, or the pregnancy or general stress, but could not seem to stop doing it.
Then I started working with a grief counselor who suggested that this anger might be displaced grieving. That made it easier for me to get a handle on it, and working through my grief helped things stablize as well.
If you are seeing a couples counselor, that person might not be trained to recognize grief, which does not always manifest itself in ways you might expect, and you might want to get someone with specific experience. Call the local hospice and I am sure they will have referrals for you. And depending on the circumstances of the illnesses and loss you have been dealing with, you might be eligible for hospice services yourself which means the counseling is free of charge Been there, done that
6 is too young to always be the ''big girl.'' It just sounds so sad-- maybe you need to cut out some time just for her. And maybe you should let her know that you're sorry when you get angry at her. If you already know you have a terrible temper, maybe you should be talking to your kids about how you're managing it (or not), and make sure they know that it's not their fault (and that you always love them. They probably need to be able to express their fears; and the older one no doubt is wondering if you love her less than the younger one. I wonder too, if the reason you're so pissed at the older one could be something to do with yourself: do you whine a lot or have trouble sticking with things? Maybe you need more help from your husband instead of your 6 yr old. Maybe the 4 yr old needs to just deal with it sometimes. And maybe the issue isn't so much that you need to stop getting angry so much as make quick and appropriate repairs once you've let loose. And then start trying to figure out what the triggers are ahead of time, so you can eventually work on not getting so angry. e.g., the moment your daughter starts whining, or even before, just ask her very nicely if she can speak nicely to you because you have a difficult time with the whiny voice. SHOW her how to do it. You need to learn how to manage it yourself so you can teach your kids too. And try to figure out what triggers her too; maybe she really does need a little time and attention. maybe she really didn't like her dance class but was too afraid to tell you earlier. maybe designate a ''safe time'' for your kids to tell you what they really need. And maybe get a new therapist. She's not that good for you if she's not helping you with this difficult problem. You may just need tricks and TOOLS to begin with, THEN understanding. Good luck
I've had similar issues with anger at my daughter. Good for you for seeking help and advice and for being so honest about such an ugly thing. First, I think you absolutely must get control over this aspect of your life, because it is fundamental that you show your small daughters patience at almost all times. Their sense of self is at stake. And your own sense of self as a parent is also at stake. Obviously these stakes are very, very high. Second, you might consider whether you are depressed and take steps to treat your depression, with medication, therapy and exercise. I've found that an intense committment to yoga has significantly drained my anger and impatience away; I spend about 10 hours a week in yoga practice, which may be more time than you have to spend. I decided that if the yoga did not help after a month then I would go on meds. I have also found that reading child rearing books (and the postings on BPN) have helped me a great deal -- they inspire me, teach me, and give me strength to be the best parent I can be. I grew up with a very angry parent and suffer the consequences in many different ways: lack of self esteem, fearfulness, high anxiety, self destructive behavior when I was in my teens and twenties. Please don't do this to your daughters, to your husband, or to yourself -- treat it as pro-actively as you would cancer. Make whatever lifestyle changes are necessary -- you won't regret it. Anonymous
I've found the book, 'Scream Free Parenting' by hal edward runkel, very helpful. you can get it on amazon for about 10$ and it was totally worth it for me! best of luck
Hi, I read you post and think that you may benefit from reading a book called ''Hearing Equals Behavior'' by Dr. Berard. How you hear over different frequencies, not how well you hear, really helps determine behavior. If you find that this may be the case, please feel free to e-mail, I can give you a free hearing profile to determine if there are any issues you may have. Auditory Integrative Training is based on the work of Dr. Tomatis and Dr. Berard. Please keep in mind that I am no audiologist and can provide a ''profile'' only. Good luck! Bryan
You'll probably get a ton of responses to this one! Here are a couple of things that are not that hard and may be helpful:
1. Ask yourself, ''Is this a life safety issue''? If the answer is, ''no, it's not'' and you can feel that out-of-control, immature anger welling to the surface, shelve the issue. Tell your child that this behavior, issue, question, problem, etc. is important to you, but that you will need to take until tomorrow to resolve it with her (you may need to repeat yourself several times). Then, if you need to, write down the issue and put it away until you are in a better mood and can think quietly about how you want to coach/counsel her and deal with it.
2. Visualize. My sister has this visualization that she uses when her children really bug her (I can't bring myself to use it, but she swears by it). She pretends in her mind that she is wringing their necks. It makes her feel better and they never know that she has internally lost her cool.
3. Take some time for yourself. Every parent needs a daily dose of off-duty time. Even if you go for a 20 minute walk every day, give yourself some space. This can be a useful time to mull over the days events, etc. Take care Anon
I read your post, and felt a familiar emotion and wonder about any simuliarities with respect to what makes you feel angry, versus what sets me off.
This being said, think about what or towards whom you are really angry at, or perhaps feel resentful. Could if really be your husband you are angry at, and you end up taking it out on the kids? I have come to realize this is my case, and a couple things you said makes me think perhaps this is the case with you. Let me explain further.....
You mentioned lack of passion after kids.....this is a common problem of which in many cases leads to deep resentment. Also, another food for thought: How much help do you get from your husband taking care of the kids? You did not mention that you are a SAHM, but if your are, remember that you are ''working'' at least as hard as any individual working outside the home. If the scenario is that your husband works outside the home and you are a SAHM, things should be 50/50 right down the line upon his return. (for instance if you cook, he cleans, if you give kids a bath, he reads to them, etc etc)
Know matter how excellent a mother you are, and I can tell just by the tone of your message that you love your kids dearly, ANY mom (or parent) will feel angry, stressed and potentially flare up with temper if the above expectations not adhered to. as a former business executive, I can tell you first hand that taking care of one child, never mind two in your case, is an overall more challenging, tiring and emitonally draining feat than any job out there.
So, don't beat yourself up to much. You certainly, I as do, want to work on not yelling at the kids....they are at an age where they will exert their independence and push your buttons. But that is just part of being a kid. All kids need attention, whether 2, 4, 6 or 16 years of age for that matter. Remember they are your top priority, not work, money, or any other influence. My motto is, a parent should be working at least as hard at being a parent as they ever did or do at their career. It is far more critical in the end anon
A short temper runs in my family as well, and although I'm much better than I used to be, I worry about treating my son the way you describing treating your daughter(s). One thing I noticed is that my temper is much shorter when my blood sugar is low. In other words, I need to eat nutritious (non-sugary) food on a really regular basis, and drink lots of water. Sleep of course helps too, but that is harder to control when you've got kids.
I also might mention, on the subject of control, that anger of the sort you describe is often spawned by a feeling of lack of control over a situation. Changing that requires having a lot of faith in other people, including maybe your daughter?
Anyhow, best wishes since I know exactly how awkward a bad temper can be, especially for a mom! anon
Your situation sounds very familiar-I was in your shoes when my kids were younger. I tried everything-therapy, bodywork, meditation, and finally the thing that helped was antidepressants. I didn't want to take them, but it made our lives so much better. I stopped yelling and losing it, and became much less reactive. I wasn't depressed, but my life was just too much for me. So, I hope you will consider giving them a try, it really made such a difference anon
It sounds like maybe there's some basic need in you that's not getting met--and maybe it's not getting met because you are not even aware of it or don't dare admit it to yourself for some reason. The fact that this one daughter triggers it suggests to me that you should look closely in this direction. Her needs, which anger you so, might just be the clue that points to your own unmet needs. I know how hard this is. Best wishes and good luck. Laura
Kaiser Richmond has some great classes. One is a parenting series and there is an anger management class. I believe that they are free. I totally get where you are coming from. Some things that help for me are to realize what some of my triggers are. I am much less patient if I am hungry, too hot, or tired. (just like my kids) I have dropped activities that occur too close to dinner, because I was really stressed out about getting home and having to get dinner on the table.
Make sure that you are taking time for yourself during the week. The Berkely YMCA has great classes and you can put the kids in Childwatch while you work out. I have found that if I am not taking care of myself it makes me more resentful. If your daughter has a behavior that really sets you off, talk to her about it when you are not mad and set up a reward chart/recognition for her for not using that behavior.
Give yourself a time-out if you are going to yell at your kids. Tell them that you are upset and need some time to calm down before you talk to them.
Parenting is so demanding and relentless. Even people who don't have a bad temper yell at their kids. Try to give yourself some slack while you figure out how to change. Your kids love you no matter what, they will forgive you and even help if you let them know that you are trying to change. Joan
The part where you said you drove home in silence, yelled at your husband that you're off, and went off by yourself--I live that, too, a few times a week usually. I'm having the same problem as you, the short temper with the older one. Ever since I had my 2nd kid, I get mad at my oldest son much more than his younger brother, because number one is ''older and he should know better.'' Lately, I've been trying to remind myself about how I felt growing up and always getting yelled at more than my younger siblings. (I was the oldest.) I'm the one who should know better
The part where you said you drove home in silence, yelled at your husband that you're off, and went off by yourself--I live that, too, a few times a week usually. I'm having the same problem as you, the short temper with the older one. Ever since I had my 2nd kid, I get mad at my oldest son much more than his younger brother, because number one is ''older and he should know better.'' Lately, I've been trying to remind myself about how I felt growing up and always getting yelled at more than my younger siblings. (I was the oldest.) I'm the one who should know better
I would suggest the same to you that I did for the previous question: check out Non Violent Communication. NVC not only teaches a new way to communicate, but teaches you how to cultivate compassion for others, by learning compassion for yourself, including learning how to value your anger, and understand how it's really there to help you: we don't want to get rid of our anger, but we do want to learn how not to *react* to our anger in ways that are hurtful to ourselves, and others! How we communicate to those we are closest to is often the same way we communicate to ourselves, interally. Bay NVC includes workshops for parents and children, and they offer wonderful retreats for families. Check it out at baynvc.org. Best of luck
Learning to Communicate Compassionately with Myself & My Kid
OK, maybe I'm a terrible mother, but I think you are being too hard on yourself. You gave only one specific example: an incident where you shouted angrily I'm off duty! and stormed out to the deck to drink 3 glasses of wine. Now, what if you had simply said (not yelled) I'm off duty and gone off to drink 1 (or even 2) glasses? That would be OK, and what you did was not that far outside the bounds, actually (in my opinion). Heck, it's not as if you drank a bottle of scotch and put a chair through the TV set. I wonder if you are setting too high a standard for yourself -- giving and giving and giving until you just lose it? Can you recognize when you are starting to feel overloaded and take a break before you lose your temper? You can even tell your kids I'm going to get mad before you do it - it's a lot less startling for them, and it will help you regain some sense of control. As for dealing with whining, run, don't walk, get the book 1-2-3 Magic (available at Diesel Books). It has fabulous tips for eliminating the persuade-argue-yell syndrome, and shows how you can have a zero-tolerance approach for all the kid behaviors that make parents crazy but one that is HELPFUL to your children. Remember, just because it's normal kid behavior, doesn't mean you shouldn't train your kids out of it, for not only your sake, but theirs. The choices are not put up with everything and keep smiling versus yell -- you can discipline your children effectively and never raise your voice! Good luck!! Fran
First off, know that you are not alone! Raising children brings with it intense emotions and I think murderous rage can be one of them. That's normal and not unhealthy. It's just what we do with it that matters. I too have a long history of ''taking things out on'' my loved ones, behind closed doors. I have been in a lot of therapy and while it has helped, I believe for me I now need a different approach. I may understand where my anger comes from but that doesn't mean I can always overcome it. Buddhist meditation practice is for me a lifesaver. Having seen what stress does to me, and then how I take it out on my family, I can see that it is imperative that I ''grow up'' as you put it, and pretty darn quickly.
Meditation practice for me is all about that. Accepting responsibility, becoming aware of my emotions and what triggers them, actively choosing not to follow the habitual patterns, and being compassionate toward myself when I ''screw up''. It just makes things a whole lot worse if I am feeling crappy about my behaviour, rather than simply acknowledging it and pledging to myself that I will try again the next day (or moment). It really is challenging, but I feel myself being pushed to grow in new ways that I never allowed before motherhood. There is something extremely rich about the rawness of emotions that come up, coupled with the compassion and love we feel toward our children and our desire to do our best.
I'd highly recommend reading anything by Thich Nhat Hanh or Pema Chodron, for working with our emotions, and a lovely book called Dharma Family Treasures which addresses issues specific to parenting. Also Mindful Parenting by Jon Kabat Zinn. My all time favourite parenting book (and I generally hate parenting books) is Playful Parenting by Joseph Cohen. He has a whole chapter on working with intense emotions, both our children's and our own, and he addresses the all important issue of whining. Finally, maybe you just need a break? Are you getting to nourish yourself at all right now? It's impossible to be nurturing to little ones when our own needs are going unmet. learning day by day
I can really relate to how you feel. It sounds like you are dealing with a lot. One of my children also triggers me a lot more than the other, (also the oldest) and the more tired and burned out I am from work, driving, etc, the worse it is. In a nutshell, it sounds like you need to take care of yourself a bit more. I find that exercise really helps me with my temper and evens me out a lot. I think that taking a break is really good, maybe a long walk would have left you feeling better. It wasn't clear from your post if you are in therapy. Therapy has helped me understand what my daughter is doing when she throws fits and drives me crazy (altho is sounds like it's the whining that is getting to you). Some anti depressants can be good for the temper stuff also. I would say just try whatever you think would help -- your kids are better off with a little less of you (if you go to a yoga class or whatever, in the evening) if you feel better when you are with them. anonymous
I have a BAD temper, and so I can relate to your post, but I just want to say that you absolutely must remember that your daughter is still just a little girl. Six year olds wine, heck, ten year olds wine! Children wine! This is what they do. Just accept this, and you'll be happier. Be a bit more forgiving--and save yourself the high blood pressure and stress. Another thing--kids are fickle. If she didn't want to stay with the dance class at the time, it doesn't mean that the next week she won't like it--did you ever think that flipping out like that just ENSURED that your kid will never want to go back to the class again since it will remind her of your freak out? Did you attempt to find out why she didn't want to go? Maybe it was something really silly and you could have talked her through it... or it would pass and next week it wouldn't matter.
A six year-old is still a very young child--no matter how much older she seems compared to the younger child.
You are modeling behavior that is very harmful to your kids, and you have to just take control of it-- there is no therapist who can do this for you or magic thing-- go outside and scream or stomp your feet or shake your head and then let it pass. Get good exercise--you will be surprised at what this does for you. I need to work out at least 40 minutes EVERY DAY and I am so much better than I was before.
I hope the first part of this message doesn't seem like I am lecturing you--this is all from experience. My first boy was born when we were so young and then the second followed shortly thereafter. I had a very stressful job--two kids, and was extremely bad with not controlling my temper. I would get mad and break stuff--and I saw how this effected my sons and just decided to stop. I started taking care of myself---and discovered that strenuous exercise was a WONDERFUL treatment for this--I hope this helps. When you child is a teenager, you will regret having displaying this behavior as acceptable for an adult. control the temper
I recently went back to work part-time and hired a babysitter to stay with my 5 and 6 year old children. I cannot recommend it more. After being at home full-time and totally committed to being the primary parent on duty 24/7, I'd grown frustrated, burned out, and angry. Now my husband and I enjoy a commute together when we can actually have uninterrupted conversation, and my kids have a ''grandmother'' they don't otherwise have. I am back at work with adults for 20 hours a week, and it's doing more for me and our family than I could imagine was possible.
Just a thought that perhaps you might like less time at home. Are you missing another part of your life? Need more balance? Think about what's making you angry, and you might be surprised by the results if you change things, even a little Hope this helps
I felt overwhelmingly compelled to respond to your post because it could have been written by my mother when I was a child. I do believe it is healthy and normal for kids to see their parents get angry now and then. But frankly, having a mother who could not control her anger was devastating for me and my siblings. It forced each of us into roles that we used to cope. My sister (the oldest) felt responsible for my mom's anger and as an adult has insulated herself and her kids from my mom. This has been extremely painful for my mom. I just feel incredibly sorry for my mom when I see all the pain and sorrow her temper has brought on her over the years. I put off having children for a long time for fear that I would lose my temper with them. You cannot imagine how damaging this is to a child. Even though my mom would apologize and shower us with love at other times, it felt like I was on a ship ready to capsize any moment--walking in a minefield. I was incredibly depressed as a child because of it and both my sister and I had suicidal episodes as teenagers/ young women. I think it would be a wonderful gift to yourself and your childern to get some real help with anger control. A helpful book is ''Nonviolent Communication'' by Marshall B. Rosenberg. The main point is that anger is the result of an unmet need. If you can identify what that unmet need is for each situation, then you can just say to the person,'''I need X.'' This is SO empowering, once you get the hang of it. Instead of focussing your energy on that spiral of exploding anger you can direct it toward an intelligent analysis of what exactly is bugging you and just let the other person know. For example, you might have said to your daughter, ''i need to hear more appreciation from you when I take you to the dance class that you asked to be enrolled in.'' This has the double benefit of helping you express your feelings while offering your daughter a safe opportunity to express herself. (she might answer, ''normally I like dance, but today one of the other students teased me''. A professional can help you to express your anger and frustration more effectively with no harm to your family. I encourage you to try--it is SO worth it angry mom's daughter
I want to comment on a couple of things you wrote. You mentioned that you're not getting concrete help from even a good therapist. I think from what you wrote you have to really manage your emotions, most particularly of course your anger. Speaking not as a parent (expecting in November), but as a kid who grew up with a dad's hair-trigger temper, it is so critical that you get a better therapist. I think that if your therapist is not giving you good concrete advice on managing your anger then you are not getting the true help you need. At the risk of going Dr. Phil on you, you are changing the people your girls are becoming/will become by taking out your anger on them, especially the older one. They may become fearful, insecure and/or they inflict their anger at how you are treating them on others who are more vulnerable than they are. I know that you probably know this. I do not mean to be judgmental, but I believe you need to run, run, run to get this help because you are ruining your little girls. Period.
Another thing you said is that you need your older girl to be a big girl so that you can focus on the little girl. Perhaps the reason she is whining is to get attention from you that she is not getting. Perhaps she sees that your younger daughter receives your attention by using her ''little girl'' whining voice. Sounds like a vicious dynamic that you and your daughter are in that, believe me, she will remember and resent unless you do something about it. And let me just say that ''nearly 6'' is still very young. Perhaps your expectations of the nearly 6 year old are much too high for her at this point.
Anyway, just my two cents. It may be hard to hear, but take it from someone who grew up with a very angry parent about how devastating it is to a child's psyche to grow up with so much hostility. I truly hope you seek better help for your anger. You are shaping the people your girls are becoming every single moment of your life with them. And there is no magic bullet cure. You have to work at it. cheryl
When I read your posting, it made me think a lot about how I behave with my 2 kids. I'm also short-tempered and I get angry really fast lately. I think having 2 kids has a lot to do with it, since it's hard to satisfy their demands. I feel that I'm running all day trying to keep up with both of them and I wish I could split myself into 2 sometimes. I attended an anger management class and that helped some, but what helps me the most is getting some time to myself. I try and go to the gym or go out with friends or by myself for coffee and I notice that it helps me calm down. I would also look at your childhood and some issues your may have when you were growing up. Hope this helps Feel your pain
Dear Anger; If therapy alone isn't helping enough, have you considered medications to help ease your stress? - as an adjunct to therapy. Antidepressants work wonders for a variety of symptoms including general stress and anger. You might want to try them for 6 months to a year to see how you respond. Taking them can help deepen the therapy process and move you forward and help you tolerate more and be calmer. Good luck. Been there
Read the book Dianetics! It'll give you a complete picture of what is occurring and why. You'll love it! It blew my mind JOJ
I have been considering writing a similar post because I also struggle with my anger/temper and feel like it often gets directed at my daughter. I am in therapy, couples therapy, and take anti-depressents (I am a major childhood trauma survivor) but it is still a lot of work not to scream at my daughter when she gets whiny, does not listen, or gets an attitude (she is 9).
I do several things (and am still working on it!) 1. Being aware of what triggers me and trying to nip it in the bud (being in a rush, being overwhelmed, stressed, etc) by noticing when my anger starts to flare. I take a lot of deep breaths and often direct my daughter into another activity so she won't trigger me- she is a constant talker and has very high energy and I often feel blown over by her- and often have her go into another room with her younger brother, age 4. I also tell her when I am on the verge of losing my temper so she can choose (hopefully) to tone herself down a bit. 6 may be too young and I do worry about whether my daughter should even have to play a role at all in keeping me from losing it. 2. I also take breaks and actually leave the room and tell her I am taking a break. When I do yell at her I almost always apologize and explain that I was already stressed an that her behavior bothered me but that my reaction was more about the stress (Of course, I say it in ways I hope she can understand). 3. Lastly, I have started used Klonopin (an anti-anxiety med) as needed, and it really helps take the edge off. Of course, I do not advocate meds for eveyone with a temper. But I find myself at times made so insane by my kids just being kids (not listening, whining, etc). I think it is important to examine your temper in individual counseling so you can really sort things out and get the support you need and really deal with it head on. I know stress plays a major role for me as do my hormones. Exercise helps also. I know it is heartbreaking when you take anger out on kids and I do think we can stop it but it is very hard. Try not to be too hard on yourself but continue to seek help and make it a priority. Please feel free to ask the moderator for my email and maybe we can support each other and brain storm. anon
I know exactly how you feel. I too have a strong temper and sometimes respond to my son's normal 4 yr old actions out of anger and regret it tremendously. Now we have an infant and I have to be SOOO careful not to put too many unreasonable expectations on him.
What works for me is to ask my husband to hold me accountable for unreasonable behavior and to remember how my mom dealt with anger so poorly. I have asked my husband to let me know when I go too far so I have an adult who will not let me get away with it and it means I have to apologize to my son when it happens. It comes from my upbringing where my mom was a rage-aholic. No excuse, but I remind myself that I don't want my kids to end up being afraid of me. This basically puts the fear of God in me and helps me to shape up (in addition to my husband's monitoring.) anon
I feel for you. As someone who has also tossed back the wine in anger, this parenting gig is not easy. I have no magic, but a few suggestions: First, love yourself while trying to change. You want to do your best, and are human like all of us. And like all our parents.
Second, forget about the ''big girl'' concept. I also have kids two years apart, and that's not much of a difference. Mine are now 13 and 15, and the way I see it now, the blessing I seek is that their needy periods/crises don't coincide. Sometimes, I take turns neglecting one while tending to the other. That is fair. Always neglecting the first to care for the younger will never be. The younger may in fact be a more sturdy personality, they often are. In any case, she needs to learn the art of sitting tight while other's needs are met, regardless of her age. Thirdly, if the elder is whining, it is fair parenting to put a stop to that. Two ways -- give her more attention. Make a point of elaborately shouting to the younger in the other room when she calls to you: ''I can't help you now, I'm helping oldest.
You'll have to wait.'' Wait 2 minutes, then go to youngest. It will still count with oldest, and will do them both good. Second way: pretend you are more grown up than you feel and very calmly tell her you don't like whining. Don't give into it. Ever. Fake more self-control than you ever thought you would have in a million years. It will work very fast. If whining is your trigger, focus all your energy on making it go away -- in that mature parent fashion. It will be really hard, but it will work, and then your life will be better! been there
First of all, don't be so hard on yourself. It sounds like you are really trying to change. One thing I do when I realize I have acted unreasonably with my kids (ages 3 & 5) is to share with them my realization and apologize. I may ask them to remind me in a way I know will help bring me to a calmer place the next time I lose it. ''mommy, you need some chill time'' etc. As far as the whining goes...''can you please say that like a big kid?'' A friend of mine made up a song that we use and it works sometimes ''whining gets you nothing, crying gets you less, asking nicely does wonders, so try your best..'' Lastly, since you are open to couples counseling, why not go on your own? It is so worth it if you can find someone good. It might be helpful in trying to work out why you feel you are being harsher on your older daughter. Suerte! I can relate!
i have a short temper when i'm tired/hungry, etc. and take it out on my husband, sometimes witnessed by our infant son, who sometimes ends up crying as a result. it makes me sick that i do that.
what i've done lately and seems to be working is i announce to my husband when i'm getting close to blowing, so he knows to do things to help me stay/get calm rather than feeding my fire. if i've managed to remain calm but need to let out the tension/anger/frustration, i do a primal scream into a pillow in another room (away from hubby and child). i even did it into my arm when we were in the car this weekend. i feel much better after that. i still think hearing that might scare my son, but not as much as seeing/hearing the louder more interactive version.
in the bigger picture, could you have a serious talk with your daughter about the effect of the whining on you, and ways she could more effectively communicate? i don't know if she's old enough to understand that approach. involve your partner in coming up with some solutions!! i think it sounds like you definitely need some help, and i'm sure other BPNers will have good suggestions. if i were you, i'd probably need stress reducers (more time to myself, deep breathing especially in the moment, yoga, exercise, meditation, etc.).
This sounds so much like what I went through when my kids were about those ages. (And, yeah, one kid got it more than the other.) In my case, it was due to a great deal of stress in my life at the time -- I was recently separated, working full time and caring for the kids without much help. I got angry with the kids too often and did too much yelling.
In my case, I was in counselling and my counselor suggested anti-depressants. I was on them for about a year and it made a lot of difference in my ability to parent appropriately. Longer term, I had to make changes in my life to address the sources of the stress, and it took me a couple of years to be able to look back and realize 1) how stressed I was and 2)how much it affected me -- at the time, I kept telling myself how well I was dealing, getting my work done, getting all the kid-stuff taken care of, keeping on keeping on.
I would return to the issue with your counselor and try specifically to get to the question of what is stressing you, and how you can change that (and, if you're comfortable with it, whether medication might help in the short term).
I wish you the best in dealing with this problem -- props to you for recognizing that you need to do something Been there done that
Kaiser Oakland (and other Kaiser facilities) has a class in their behavioral medicine dept that you may want to consider. It's called ''Mindfulness and meditation''. I recently completed it. I used it to decrease my anxiety but others who took the class were dealing with anger, anxiety and/or depression. This class helped us where other things didn't. It can really help you step outside your anger and deal with it and reduce it. It takes time and committment, but it really works. I think the number to call to get more information or to join the class is 510-752-1075. At Oakland, it's $95 for Kaiser members and a little more for non-members (don't remember that price). My teacher was Charlie Johnson and he is great! It's a nine week course. Anon
You are right in that your anger is hard on your children. I think you need more time to yourself -- saying ''I'm off duty'' and doing something you feel ok about (an escapist novel? a bath? going to a cafe and reading the paper?) seems like a good idea. Also, your children might be at the stage where a good aftercare program, or longer hours of childcare could help you get time for yourself, and them be in a safe environment. Maybe this isn't the right time for them to be in extra activities if it is creating family stress. The other question I would ask is how is the rest of your life going? Are you seeing a counselor for yourself (inappropriate anger is a common sign of depression)? Are you ready to be back at work/or do you need to work less hours/return to school?
I think kids do constantly test our limits, and the challenge is to find ways to be there for them, which often means getting more support for ourselves. I remember when my toddler was driving me crazy (I was working a 40% schedule), an older friend told me I needed more childcare when I wasn't working so I could have time for myself. She was right, and it did help.
The other thing I do, is think, how am I going to feel when my kid is a teenager, and does this to me -- what they learn from us when they are young, is what they play back when they are older. One further point I would make -- As the oldest of a closely spaced sibling set, I remember being expected to be self-sufficient and helpful at a very early age; and it cost me a lot of money in therapy to undo some of that early stress. oldest daughter
Hi. Let me just say that from your description, you sound like the type of person who is especially hard on yourself. You expect a lot of yourself probably because a lot was expected of you while you were still very young. It sounds like you were able to rise to the challenge because you learn quickly.
However, because you demand so much of yourself and are hard on yourself when you do not meet your lofty expectations, you are equally demanding of those around you. It sounds like the anger you feel and express to your girls is the anger you feel over your disappointment in yourself. Are you a bit of a perfectionist? You sound somewhat like a perfectionist. This is a wonderful quality to possess if it is harnessed and controlled and channeled in a constructive manner. Otherwise, you end up bitterly disappointed with yourself and others due to unrealistic expectations. Anger is not a bad thing. It is a tool. I think of it as a barometer to point me to where something is not right within me. You sound like you have not been listening to what your anger is trying to point you to. Anger can be your friend so long as you are listening to it rather than lashing out from it.
One last thing as a practical piece of advice, perfectionists tend to overwhelm themselves and others so you may want to practice staying in the moment. When your anger flares, in that one moment, choose not to react 1. because you will only upset your girls, 2. it won't make the situation any better and 3. your girls will become mirror images of you in stressful situations.
So, in that moment, stop everything and resist the temptation to speak. Breathe. In a calm tone and with a calmer heart, practice talking and listening to your older daughter and her reasons. They may not make sense to you but just by listening to her you both will connect in a meaningful way. Love covers a multitude of sins. Oh, and forgive yourself too. You don't sound like the type who lacks love, only an objective and sincere look inside. Good luck ymsmorris
get yourself a new therapist. I highly reccomend Pete Walker in Lafayette. I imagine your older daughter reminds you of yourself somehow, and therefore is able to ''push'' your buttons better than the younger one. remember, you are doing your best - try not to beat yourself up -- get a new therapist! good luck
I've got 2 ideas. The first one is practical. There is a great anger management class (really a short series) run by a woman at Kaiser Richmond. You don't have to be in Kaiser to be able to attend. My husband took the class after wanting to deal with his anger, and based on reviews on BPN. He thought the classes were very useful and not overdone. Men and women took the class. Many ''average folk'' who just really wanted to get a handle on their anger and to stop impacting their families so negatively.
The second thing is to look (if you are interested in this stuff) into what ''type'' of person you are and what 'type'' of person your 6 yr old is. SOmewhere on the web I think there is a tool. It might be a Meyers-Briggs personality tool or something similar. It was probably something that was previously listed on BPN (anyone out there have a link?). But it helps you consider your kid's personality and yours and the likely challenges you may want to be aware of for your relationship.
Okay - and one more thing..TRY to remember that she is a kid, too (like your younger child) and she is likely to do kid-like things (like whine) even if she is an older sibling; and try to act like an adult (to both your kids), don't get bogged down in the whine, and try to let it run off your back. I know it's not easy Another mom who doesn't like whiiiiiiiine
I had a similar situation many years with one of my three children. He was a high strung child, altho' certainly within normal ranges, but he drove me crazy. I would yell at him & had begun to swat at him in an most inappropriate way. (He says he doesn't remember this at all-he was about 9 or so at the time.) I decided I needed to do something on a regular basis that was not connected with being a mother or a wife & checked out local colleges & went back to school part-time. I eventually got my degree, changed my life much for the better, & have really good relationship with my grown children, husband, & grandchildren. Your children are younger so that may not be an option for you. But you need to have an outlet for that anger other than your daughter. An routine exercise class you can go to without the kids may help. Get something you can hit or yell at; there used to be a toy called boofers which were like huge, well-padded swords you could smack hard against any surface & they wouldn't cause damage. Don't expect your older daughter to be a big help with your younger child; she is still very young herself. Try to give each child 10 minutes a day alone with you, loving, cuddling, reading, etc. Use a big clock if need be, so they can tell when you need to stop. Hope this helps lila
I, too, found I was getting unreasonably angry at one of my children. I took the Anger Management class several years ago at Kaiser (you don't have to be a member) and it helped a lot. Anger is a physical reaction as well as an emotional one and you can learn to recognize when you are about to ''go off'' and prevent it. Been There.
I really relate to your submission. My son is beautiful, bright, and totally inclined to nag and whine me to death. The whining in particular makes me insane and I have totally (and totally inappropriately) flown off the handle numerous times in recent months. I've said and done things I deeply regret. My sister recommended a book that I've found really helpful called ''1-2-3 Magic,'' by Thomas Phelan. It gives a really good management tool for quashing irritating behaviors in children. What makes me go ballistic is a sense that I am powerless and being victimized by my kid's behavior. I found that good management tools help me take back a sense of control (not dictatorship, just appropriate child-management)and prevent me from losing my temper. I don't believe we as parents have to tolerate whining (or at least we can keep in to a minimum.) anon
It seems you got a lot of good advice from BPN members. One easy, small addition to other things you may do: Read the book Kids, Parents and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka (bad title, good book). It will help you identify your temperment, the temperment of your children, and how best to deal with everyone's temperments so you all get what you need and so you take care of each other emotionally, and teach your children emotional intelligence. It will help you deal with your children when they whine and when you are angry. It's a GREAT book Anon
You've already got a lot of really great advice about many aspects of your post, and I know this is over a month after you wrote, but I'm assuming that it might still be useful, because anger management and dealing with whining are unfortunately long term issues and not resolved over night. First I wanted to counter 1 or 2 posters' points about the damage you've done to your children. Yes, it is important to control your anger and it can have long term consequences, but it is not too late and it doesn't sound like any irreparable damage has been done. My father had a very short temper, yelled and even hit me and seemed out of control much of the time until I was out of high school. Yet I learned to stand up to him and became a strong person maybe because of it. When I was in college my parents divorced and my dad calmed down and now he is a great dad and a really great grandpa and we couldn't ask for a better relationship. I think the key thing, and here is where my advice to you comes in, is that I always knew that he thought very highly of me: that I am smart and beautiful and a good person with unique qualities. Other people have encouraged you to apologize for your outbursts and take responsibility for them, and that is important (although don't force her to forgive you before she's ready, as my dad did!) but more important is that you let her know often that you think she is great, that your anger is your issuee and it doesn't affect your love and appreciation for your children. Kids are very resilient, and I'm sure yours will be fine, esp if you start working on this now (much earlier than my dad did!). So don't beat yourself up. --also short-tempered, but learning patience
At the risk of bringing up a very personal subject for many of us, I'd like to ask for insight into how other parents cope with their own feelings of anger toward their kids. I love my kids madly, but just imagine the end of a long work-day, pulling into the driveway, dinner needing preparation, one kid runs one way, the other goes the other direction, and I'm already tired and this just does not bring out the best in me. I am really dedicated to mindful, conscious, gentle parenting, and understand the value of their seeing a healthy model for the expression and resolution of anger. Yet when I get even slightly angry, I feel somehow that I'm failing them. I'd really appreciate any comments or experiences any one had has on their parenting journey with this subject. Thank you.
What I did in that specific case during one trying period was to bring snacks in the car and then spend 15 minutes reading together as soon as we got home. It made it easier to reconnect, made my son feel like he'd had enough quality attention to hold him til dinner, and was even quite sweet for me. The committed time was something for him to look forward to and cooperate for.
Other times I take time out myself when frustrated; try to remind myself what he might be going through, and lately, try to head it off at the pass by having a short snuggle - which isn't all that much different than what I used to do with the reading.
I just read the most fabulous Anne Lamott essay on this subject in the new book Mothers Who Think which is a compilation of really terrific essays from the column of the same name on salon.com. I looked up her essay from the book (Mother Rage: Theory and Practice), and you can find it on-line at: http://salon.com/mwt/lamo/1998/10/29lamo.html. I really love this essay - it actually brought up old memories of my mother, as well as reminding me of myself now. I suddenly found the memories of how I was treated as a child to be very healing, in that it's remarkably helpful to have a clear memory of being yelled at, and how scary that was. One of my favorite lines towards the end is: Good therapy helps. Good friends help. Pretending that we are doing better than we are doesn't. Shame doesn't. Being heard does. No kidding. I think reading good books & getting some perspective helps too, also hanging on to your sense of humor, & not beating yourself up. On the practical self-help side, another book I recently picked up is How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk (Faber & Mazlish). Amazingly, it's been coming in very handy so far. Also by the same authors is Siblings Without Rivalry. Sounds impossible (ridiculous?), but both books have great advice for handling our own behavior towards our kids - the ONLY thing we really can control. And our personal improvements have got to improve the whole family system eventually. Best wishes to all of us!!
A good, practical book on just this subject is Nancy Samalin's Love and Anger- The Parental Dilemma.