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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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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- The Indiaparenting Team