Recently I got a chance to attend a presentation on anger management at my children’s school. It was really a thought provoking discussion that made me realize how most of us become authoritative and assertive after becoming a parent. We often take our children as punching bags to take out our personal frustrations without thinking how much it can affect them negatively. The discussion compelled me to know what my children thought of my parenting style. So, I asked Huzaifa and Hafsa to write five good and bad things about me. After several minutes they handed over the paper which I curiously opened. Among all other good comments, one statement shook me and it was about my unconscious rage. I usually do not realize when my personality turns into an angry individual.
According to Adeela Baber, a child psychologist who is also a motivational speaker on parenting, raising a child is a difficult task. It has some basic boundaries that every parent must follow and respect. “Since being a parent does not mean that one is licensed to do everything one wants.”
According to a research made by Harvard Medical School, Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) is a behavioral disorder that is characterized by extreme expressions of rage and short temperament and unfortunately it is increasing day by day.
Dr Aneela Akbar, a child psychologist based in the US describes this by saying that we actually live in a highly pressurized society where we are weighed down by various responsibilities and burdens from our families. It often results in conflicts, disputes, tensions and stresses but instead of resolving or discussing the strains, “we use children as a tool of catharsis by shouting, yelling and even hitting them on their minor mistakes.”
This happens with many. Instead of managing anger, we tend to lash out on children. “It just takes few minutes to shout but follows a lifelong regret and negative impact on their personalities,” adds Adeela. Therefore, it should be addressed seriously by parents especially mothers. The art of anger management is probably the most difficult skill for any human. But it is not impossible.
There are different reasons for this rage. These include personal issues, stresses, an illness, being overworked or it can even be a habit. In case of mothers, Khushbakht, a child psychologist based in Multan says, lack of peaceful sleep can also be a cause. “Angry parents raise angry children. When a child becomes a witness to his parent’s anger, he catches it in no time.”
She further shares some tips to overcome and manage anger. She advises, “not to spank the child. It lowers their self esteem. Consequently, the child may start feeling worthless, lonely and this destroys relationships.”
Moreover, children usually imitate their parents and so would also resolve their problems with force in future. “Tell him the logic behind your anger instead.” Although it is pretty hard to remain calm during tantrums but with practice one can learn.
Further, while sitting alone, try to memorize the words which you utter during anger. Imagine you hear those words from someone else. Definitely no one likes it so stop uttering them to your child. Consciously practice to remain cool as well as control your emotions and reactions during the rage. Get to the depth of the issue instead of freaking out. Learn to identify the reason and its triggers and rectify them in a healthy and positive manner. “Sometimes children show grumpiness for simple things like hunger, discomfort, illness or for seeking attention,” explains Adeela. Meeting the requirement saves from being angry.
Leave the “war area” and sit alone for some time to compose yourself. Do not give attention to your anger, the more attention you pay the greater it will become. Rememorize your past bad experiences because of anger. The previous lessons, guilt or repentance can also make you calmer. “Write down in a diary what makes you angry and what you do or say when in the state. Read it occasionally to find out the stimulants of your annoyance,” says Khushbakht. Tell yourself aloud about your negative approach, it will make you realize that you are over-reacting.
Walk relaxes people, so go for it when angry. Brisk walk produces happy hormones. Even a hobby can help you calm down.
Besides, “punish them according to their act,” says Adeela. If they messed the room or have thrown garbage on the floor ask them to clean it up.
Do not stay away from children. According to Dr Aneela, “we usually do not talk to our children except when necessary. Give them time and discuss things with them. It creates emotional bond between the child and parent”
Also, reduce the excess consumption of fast food, fizzy drinks, colas and processed food. It diminishes the nutrients and makes biochemical changes in the body. According to American Academy of Neurology (AAN), sweetened beverages, like coffee and tea have important physical and mental impacts on children. Avoid them.
Hugging, kissing and praising make a kid happy and relaxed. Do it frequently. Calmness is contagious and so is abuse.