How to Avoid the Boxing Ring with Your Kids


controlling anger

Sometimes parenting pushes us to the edge of our patience. When children are angry, they try to bait parents by complaining, throwing verbal punches, and ramping up the emotional intensity of the situation. It’s their way of trying to gain some leverage and swing the circumstances in the direction they desire.

Why is stepping into the ring with your own heavyweight intensity bad? Anger doesn’t equal strength. To the contrary, it’s often a sign of weakness. Real strength is the kind that can keep cool when the tension rises. Firmness doesn’t require anger. You can be firm as a parent without yelling, becoming emotional, or otherwise losing control. It teaches your child that explosiveness and a lack of self-control is okay. By blowing up during conflict with your child, you’re increasing the chance that they will handle conflict the same way as adults. How can you work on controlling anger? Here are 5 ways to avoid blowing up with your kids.

1. Have a plan.

Parenting well requires a long-range plan that knows what the fundamental goals are and how to achieve them. When we don’t have a plan, we make rash decisions and react to circumstances in the moment and increase the odds that we’ll succumb to anger when challenged.

2. Decide now that you won’t enter the ring, no matter how tempting.

Resolving now to avoid this mistake may help you stick to your plan in the heat of the moment.

3. Tell your child that you refuse to engage in this way.

Tell your child, “I’m not going to fight with you. You need to go sit in the hall and settle down.” This gives both of you a chance to cool off before you attempt to address the problem.

4. Identify triggers and plan for them.

Develop some solutions for the parenting issues you routinely face. Identify the areas where you tend to get angry and map out new strategies for dealing with them.

5. Take it one step at a time.

If this is a major challenge for you, you may focus for a period of time on simply managing your own anger when dealing with an angry child, then later implement strategies aimed toward correcting or improving their behavior.

How do you calm yourself down when you feel like a fight is imminent?

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