Sure, yelling, screeching and hitting your young ’un aren’t the way to go when dealing with your misbehaving child. As a parent, how do you rein in your emotions when you’re furious?
Earlier this year, a man was jailed 6 months for ill-treating his 7-year-old stepson. To punish the boy for staying up past his bed time, the man had posed him a series of maths questions. For every wrong answer, he pinched the boy on the inner thighs.
If you feel that you are about to lose your temper with your child, try these ways to keep yourself in check.
1. Don’t take it personally
He might have turned a deaf ear to your nagging him about his unfinished homework. Or perhaps he is refusing to apologise for pushing a younger child accidentally. You might even feel that what he’s done is a personal attack on the way you’ve brought him up.
Chill, he’s just a kid, and believe it or not, he’s not really trying to annoy you. He might just be tired, restless or in need of a hug, like even grownups sometimes do. Remove yourself from the situation, so that you are better able to appreciate what he’s going through and how you can help.
You’re about to explode and every expletive you know comes to mind. In such moments, walk away and breathe. Grab a drink in the kitchen, or splash some cool water on your face. It’s hard to make good decisions and talk and act rationally when you’re upset.
3. Think before you act
Shelen Ang, a principal trainer at Focus on the Family, Singapore, recommends the “Feel-Think-Act approach”. You make an effort to think between what you feel and how you act.
You may need some time away before you take action, so tell your child, “I need time to think about what just happened. I need you to play quietly by yourself in the meantime,” or “I don’t know what just got over you but your behaviour was unacceptable. I’m going to give us both 5 minutes to cool down and we will talk about what happened later.”
Ang adds that physical discipline, such as spanking and caning, is not the only, nor the best way to discipline. She says, “Age-appropriate consequences should be communicated beforehand and enforced in love, not in anger.”
If you don’t like getting yelled at by your boss, your child won’t like you yelling at him either. When you shout at him, you’ll risk damaging his self-esteem and sense of self-worth if he feels hurt and embarrassed. Instead of tearing your child down, take the time to explain matters to him in a way that would not make him feel ashamed.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Your child has spilt some milk on the table and left crumbs all over his brand-new shirt. While you may instinctively want to hurl harsh comments at him, stop for a second and think― is it worth the emotional damage you might be causing? Why not ask him to help you clear the mess instead?
We all make mistakes. Our temper can escalate before we even have the time to think about it. Sure, we all slip up, but it’s okay as long as we admit that we’ve done wrong. It’s perfectly fine to apologise to your child for yelling at him, and explain that it frustrates you when he misbehaves. Ask him to do better next time, and promise that you will, too.