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Manners and Discipline Topics..

You are here : home > Manners and Discipline > Disciplining Children > Anger and Parenting

Anger and Parenting

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The fledgling parent realizes that the task of raising a child is an awesome responsibility and hopes that one grows into a 'good' parent by magic.One of the most difficult emotions to deal with as a parent is anger.  Anger can be appropriate in a situation where the parent has to discipline the child.

Supermom and Superdad

When an erstwhile child stands on the threshold of parenthood, he or she aspires to be the pillars of wisdom and guidance that his or her parents were. The fledgling parent realizes that the task of raising a child is an awesome responsibility and hopes that one grows into a 'good' parent by magic. But what is a 'good' parent? This question is not easily answered. Parents are people who provide food, clothing and shelter for their child; who love their children unconditionally; who protect them and guide them along the 'right' path; who teach them to be responsible individuals who can be of value to society - All this and so much more.

However, this is an ideal list of requirements. But parents have to travel a bumpy road to achieve these goals. The reality is that people don't change into perfect superhumans just by virtue of having a child. You have to operate within the limitations of your humanness, your shortcomings and weaknesses. As an adult, when you think about your parents, you perceive them as these wise beings who always knew the right thing to do and say. You should keep in mind, however, that the passing years have probably erased the memory of all those times when you felt anything but love for your parents and were convinced that they had been put on this earth just to torture you.

Anger can be Destructive

One of the most difficult emotions to deal with as a parent is anger. The modern parent has to deal with a great deal of stress considering that there are a million demands on his or her time. One of the offshoots of stress is that it makes a person quicker to anger. Most parents will tell you that when faced with a tantrumatic child, they have felt like lying down on the floor and kicking and screaming louder than the child. While they may not go to that extent they usually find it quite difficult to control their anger. While anger can be a cathartic emotion, it can also be destructive, especially when a child is faced with a parent's anger. Anger can be appropriate in a situation where the parent has to discipline the child. But anger is often inappropriate because parents invest so much time and love in their children that they are easily disappointed and frustrated.

When a parent's anger has cooled, he or she usually just forgets about the incident. A child, however, can perceive the situation quite differently. Children can feel unloved because sometimes in the heat of the moment the parent is often not specific about the reason for his or her ire. They feel that nothing they do is right. They feel angry and humiliated.

Defense Mechanisms

If a parent has a hair-trigger temper, it usually makes a child quite anxious. The child then develops defense mechanisms to deal with this anxiety. One such defense is deceit. Many children lie just to prevent their parents from yelling at them. If your child sees you lose your temper frequently, she may adopt the defense of avoidance. She may take to tiptoeing around you because she is never sure what is going to set you off. This curbs the spontaneity of her relationship with you and she may become guarded about expressing her thoughts and emotions. Other children try to fight fire with fire. They react to anger with aggression and 'attitude.' They will either shout back at the parent or try to demonstrate that their anger does not affect them. Some children display their indifference by playing the clown and laughing and giggling. This is probably because they are nervous and to hide their pain and humiliation. 

Inappropriate Anger

How does one know if one's anger is unreasonable? One has to indulge in a little introspection and try to identify what it is that makes you angry. May be you react with anger to behaviour that is merely inconvenient, not objectionable. May be your anger is a reflection of your irritation with a minor change in your schedule. May be your anger is just an expression of your frustration when trying to teach your child or helping him to complete some work. May be you are irritated by your child's wailing or raucous laughter. May be your child just seems to be a source of endless demands. Or has your child merely interrupted your train of thought? If this is the case, you can be sure that your anger is inappropriate.

Coping with Anger

Parents have to learn to cope with their anger and to compensate their children for the anger that they cannot control. If you think about it, you can probably identify the times when you are more likely to be stressed out and prone to anger. For instance, in the mornings when you are getting your child ready for school and get dressed for work at the same time. Or may be at the end of the day when you come home tired from work. Once you are aware of this, you should try to explain to your child that your anger often stems from the situation and is not directed at the child personally.

Once you are aware of these 'difficult times,' you can cope better with your anger. If you cannot deal with your child's homework as soon as you come home, schedule this time for an hour before dinner, giving yourself enough time to wind down. If you feel that you are going to lose your temper, try the tried and tested technique of counting to ten or step out of the situation till you feel a little calmer. 

You can enlist your child's help in controlling your temper. Warn them that there are certain times of the day when it is not advisable to start a silly squabble or ask trivial questions that are bound to irritate you. This will also make your child conscious of others' emotions and the situations in which they occur. 

Remember that a child is less threatened by anger that is targeted at a specific behaviour rather than a harangue involving a litany of complaints about his general behaviour attitudes. So if you are going to give your child a dressing down, stick to the point as far as possible.


Sometimes with all the best intentions, a parent fails to control his or her anger. In such situations, it is only fair that you make it up to the child. However, this does not mean showering the child with presents and treats. This is overcompensation and could lead to the child learning to manipulate the parents

Children always view their parents as their safety nets, the people who will always be there for them and support them. A parent's anger can often shake this belief. It is important that the parent re-establish the security and comfort of the relationship. This can be achieved by spending some quiet time with the child. This will quell the feeling of rejection that the child may have and keep the lines of communication open. 

The child needs to be reminded that a parent's anger is merely an incident in a relationship and does not diminish the love that the parent has for the child. There is no better way to communicate this than by displays of physical affection. A hug and a smile go a long way in mending fences. 

Preoccupied with their own anger, parents often forget that their anger affects the child too, eliciting feelings of anger and humiliation in turn. If a parent acknowledges this, it helps to reduce feelings of resentment that the child may harbour or a feeling that he or she has been misunderstood. This will make your child feel that he or she can still communicate with you. Try to make your child understand the reasons for your anger. This will diminish the confusion and fear that children feel when faced with a screaming parent. A mistake that parents often make is to deny their anger. This only serves to confuse the child. Children are very sensitive to your feelings and can accurately judge when you are angry. When you deny the anger, they get a mixed message that confuses them. They may not be sure about their reading of other people's feelings and reactions in future. It is important that you set an example to the child to be honest with themselves. 

To conclude, the fact remains that children can try the patience of a saint. While anger is a common enough emotion, parents do not want their temper to drive a wedge between them and their children. Every parent would like that their children be able to talk to them and not live in fear of them.

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Kaverii.6 years ago
Please check out this site....has similar topics on Anger Mgmt and Parenting
Neha.8 years ago
i have a ten year old daughter and i think that whoever wrote this article must have the temperament of a saint. theoretically, i agree that one should try and control one's temper. but on most days when faced with a naughty child all these theories fly out of the window.
Helpless Mom.8 years ago
my daughter is colicky, and although i don't want to, i can't help myself for getting angry at her (ofcourse i don't do anything). and then i get angry at myself for getting angry at her - who is truly an angel when she is not crying.
Vinaya.8 years ago
yes, we all get angry with children but then saying 'sorry' if the anger was disproportionate or talking about what caused us to be angry with the children and also telling them how they should have behaved in that situation helps the child and us immensely. remember for every negative comment you make to a child, try to make at least three positive ones as soon as you can.
Deepika Belapurkar.8 years ago
anger i think is like a debilitating disease unless tackled appropriatly. parenting is the most time consuming and taxing job among all. therefore it is essential to accept that parents cannot be perfect. they are prone to thier own out-bursts under stress. under such circumstances it is important for one parent to remain calm. the child needs to feel secure in the belief that he is still wanted and loved. apologising for incorrect behaviour is top priority. a lot of time should be alloted for doing things together. it can be same and simple hugging. but do it in style, meaning with a lot of time on hand.
Gayatri.8 years ago
a human is not a saint, anger is a expression if you don't throw it out of your system, it will toxicate your body and you would fall sick. if you observe a small child you will notice that he/ she also has a way of expressing his/her anger. the writer needs to justify his views by giving examples.
Ritu.8 years ago
i have a one year old who turns the whole house up side down. at the end of the day my head is bursting and i cannot take it any more. so i end up shouting at everyone- my husband,, the house hold help and sometimes even the baby. kids at this age can hardly understand a no and they will do whatever they feel like. i think meditation and a lot of strong will power is needed to control anger which can lead to raising your hand on the otherwise innocent kid.
Priya.8 years ago
yes, i agree that we should try and control our anger as much as possible. but there should be some sort of vent for the anger or else you either tend to hurt the child or in fear of hurting him too much you tend to hurt yourself. i have two boys with a small age gap of two years. i have to attend to the homework of one while the other who has still not started school tends to distract the other. i also have to spend quality time with both of them and attend to their quarrels. in between all this i tend to get irritated very fast and lose my temper leading to spanking or shouting at both of them. but i feel reading everyone's views and writing down your own tend to calm you down little by little.
Patty.8 years ago
i found this site on a search. thank you, thank you. i am grateful for any advice to help me deal with my 9 year old daughter who has always been a challenge to parent, so unlike her older brother who has a very easygoing and cooperative personality. it is amazing that two syblings can have such different temperaments. i would like to advise the parent who feels overwhelmed by their anger in dealing with a difficult child to take time to take care of themselves so that their patience can be replenished. getting out with friends to talk about shared difficulties in parenting helps me to vent frustrations and to keep things in perspective. emotions and confidence can take a beating with the daily struggle of parenting a difficult child. knowing that i can turn to my friends for support helps me greatly in this.
Desperate mom.8 years ago
i have a 7 year old daughter who never listens to anything i tell her. right from waking up in the morning, to eating, doing homework, to watching tv and even bedtime. everything is a struggle. inspite of warning her several times, when she doesn't listen, i scream and shout, drag her and make her comply. i even say mean things like i regret having her or that she is the worst child i have seen etc. then later i regret and feel guilty about hurting her self esteem. sometimes i apologise or explain why i shouted at her. but still there aren't too many loving and fun moments that we mind is always preoccupied with this matter and how i can be a better and more indulging mother. is there anyone out there who has this experience and who has tackled this problem effectively?
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