You’re on the brink of losing your temper with your kids. You hold it in. You bite your tongue. You take a deep breath…and then you lose it. Ugh. Not a good feeling and certainly not productive.
Just about every parent, if they admitted it, has lost their temper with their child. After all, pushing a parent to the brink is a large part of a child’s job description. They not only know which buttons to push, but how and when to push them to get the biggest rise out of us.
Although a typical day in the life of a parent has more than its share of challenges designed to test our patience, there are certain scenarios that are almost certain to make us lose our temper with our children.
So here are the reasons why you lose your temper, and what you can do about it.
Five Top Reasons Parents Lose Their Temper:
We quickly come to the end of our rope when we have too much to do and too little energy with which to do it. Add to this the fact that kids seem to have a limitless amount of energy and you’re already tired when you wake up in the morning.
2. Projected Anger.
Often we are ticked off at someone else or about something that has little or nothing to do with the crisis of the moment. Unfortunately, our kids are the easiest, most accessible target of this displaced anger.
3. Unrealistic Expectations.
We have an agenda that does not take into account the unpredictability of life in general and parenting in particular. Our kids catch the blame for our inability to fulfill these unrealistic goals.
4. Failure to Plan.
Many times, our frustration and anger are of our own making because we fail to put in the extra effort it takes to prepare us and our children for the unique demands of the day. Remember, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
5. A Distorted Perspective.
We assume it is us against them and that they are out to get us. We see those little charges as the enemy who has us under siege. The psychological term is confirmation bias—once we assume this is true, then real life seems to confirm it.
Losing our temper is one of the most common sources of guilt and failure for a parent. So what can we do about it?
Five Simple Ways to Control Your Temper:
1. Pace Yourself.
Do your best to rest up when the chance presents itself. Even if your kids don’t take a nap, institute a quiet time in the afternoon. If they protest, get that wild look in your eyes and tell them, “If I don’t get a break, you are going to regret it!” They’ll run to their rooms.
2. Identify and Deal with your Anger.
Ask yourself, “What am I really angry about?” If you can’t take care of it immediately, write down your course of action and then set it aside until you can deal with it. Pray for a gentle spirit toward your kids and ask forgiveness if needed.
3. Keep it Real.
Once you have a reality check on your perfectly executed day, calculate how much time, energy, and money it will take to pull it off and then triple it. Barring a flooded basement or an outbreak of chicken pox, you may come close to meeting your expectations at the end of the day.
4. Plan, Plan, Plan.
As you anticipate what you need to prepare for the demands of the day, play “worst case scenario” and plan accordingly. Lists are incredibly helpful and sticky notes rule! There is only one thing more time consuming than preparation (preparing)…re-preparation (repairing).
5. The Truth will set your children free.
This is when you need to act maturely and responsibly with their self interest at heart. Remember, our job is to love and train our children. We are the parent and they are just children. Don’t take their goofiness and irritating behavior personally. Fathers (and mothers too), do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart. (Col 3:21)
Parenting can be the greatest job you ever do, with rewards here on earth and more in heaven. God is our example of a patient, loving, longsuffering Father and although we give Him lots of reasons to lose His cool, He continues to graciously love us. Why not try to love your kids the way God loves you—with grace. Instead of losing your temper, you are more likely to find joy and satisfaction in your role as a mom and dad.