Tuesday, January 15, 2013

my parenting anger management plan


I remember the day when I knew I needed to come up with an anger management plan for my parenting journey. I had several young children at home, I was exhausted from lack of sleep, I was teary, I was emotional and I was having trouble coping with every day tasks. My daily routine consisted of changing nappies, cleaning up one mess after another and of pushing myself physically and emotionally just to get through the day. My temper was raging out of control, not so much from things that my children had done (although, they did drive me crazy on many days!) but more from sleep deprivation and I knew that things were not going to get any better.

I also knew I would continue to feel tired in the future, I would continue to feel teary and emotional and that I was going to continue to have more children at home with me. Therefore adding more stress and moments where I would feel exhausted and frustrated. I needed a plan on how to cope better and a way to deal with the frustrations I was feeling.

Feeling angry is a natural emotion. It is normal and as a mother of many children, I was being realistic in accepting that I would have many moments where I would lose my temper. Trying to pretend that I was always going to be patient and loving and kind was just not real in my eyes. Sure it would be great to be able to hold myself together like that every day but even the nicest, most patient people have moments where they are pushed to the limit and kids sure know how to push our buttons some days!

So I came up with a few simple strategies that helped me stay calm:

Mum Time Out: If I feel that I am starting to get angry I send myself to my room for some time out. When I had little children the only time I could safely and realistically snatch was to simply close the door and enjoy about 30 seconds to myself. Most days during that time just knowing that I was alone in the room by myself was enough. I would take a few deep breaths and then go back out and tackle the situation again. Now that my cherubs are older I can take a little longer to calm down and to brace myself to deal with what ever is going on. 

Music: I have always found that listening to music is a source of inspiration and relaxation for me. I found a list of songs that either relaxed and calmed me or helped me to release some energy by dancing around in my kitchen. I simply explained to my children that it was time for Mum to play her song and then soaked up those tunes until I started to feel better. Some days those songs were stuck on repeat for a long time!

TV/DVD's: When my children were young I tried to save tv/dvd watching for when I needed it the most as a mother. It was when I needed my children to sit still, to stop destroying the joint and to watch a show to try to give me a few moments to catch my breath. Often all I did during this time was to quickly clean up an area or to blankly stare out the window and to repeat over and over again...this too will pass...this too will pass.... :)

Sharing how I feel: I have always felt that it was important for my children to know that I am a person and that I have feelings as well. I simply tell them if I am having trouble controlling my temper and am feeling angry. I might say something like this, 'I know you want me to help you right now but I am feeling angry and I need to calm down first. Please give me 5 minutes by myself to calm down and then I will come and help you." I have found being honest and upfront works really well and once my children could see that I did want to help them and that it was best to wait, then they would give me some space.

Ask for a hug: Often when I am losing my temper it is because I am feeling over-worked, un-loved and under-valued as a mother. Normally all I need at that time is a loving hug and a kind word. With young children you don't often get it when you need it and they are too young to read the signs. So I started simply asking for a hug. I would announce that I was feeling a little sad and that Mum needs a hug. My children would always give me one and I would soak up that cherubs goodness and feel so much happier. The wonderful turn of events that has come from this is that my children now come to me at times and tell me they need a hug as well. I am always happy to give them one.

The Announcement: In extreme circumstances when I totally lose it, I yell out a family announcement: "For your own personal safety...go to your bedrooms right now!" Then my children scatter to their rooms and know to stay there and be quiet until I have calmed down. I then go to my room, lay down, shed a few tears, punch the bed, scream in a pillow, even read a chapter of a book, put on a new necklace, play a song loudly and say a prayer. These situations have occurred in such moments when two boys decided to pull all the keys of my laptop, when two boys got into my food storage and covered the whole rumpus room floor with spaghetti...then stomped on it with their little feet and broke it up into pieces, (did you know you can't vacuum up spaghetti!) or when two boys (are you sensing a theme here?) decided to pour a large container of honey over their heads...whilst standing on the carpet...in my lounge room. 

Obviously being calm, loving and kind as a parent is the ideal we are all striving for. Daily loud yelling and extreme violence or anger is not the type of parenting that I am endorsing in any way. Having a plan for how to keep yourself calm I have found has been worth while. I know if things get out of hand that I have a way to calm myself down. My children also know my routine of how to calm down and can see when I need a break. Often they will suggest that I go take some time out in my room! I always willingly oblige. I am a much happier mother because I know and accept my limits. I also find that staying calmer brings a much better feeling to our home and that is worth the deep breathing I often have to practise!  

Do you have a plan for when you feel angry? 
What do you do to calm down? 

39 comments:

  1. This is fabulous - it's good to know we all go through this, but having some strategies to manage it make things much easier.

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    1. I think we forget that other people struggle just like we do as parents. Everyone feels angry :)

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    1. I love a good hug. Especially a cherub hug!

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  3. I have twin boys also and they are a special pair that test me daily by just being them.They have too much energy and me not enough! I have discovered two things: 1. it is okay for me to be cranky and mad at them and 2. that sometimes I just need to walk away. Peppa Pig at 5pm is a great quiet time for me before the night rush. I will have to print these out and keep in mind.

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    1. I have a special pair also. They have taught me so many things I did not want to know!

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  4. This is exactly what I needed to read today. Lately I've been feeling like things are getting out of control, that I'm not doing a very good job of being a housekeeper and mother and that there most certainly are days when things just irritate me! I'm so glad to hear I'm not alone in feeling this and thank you for sharing yiure coping strategies. I too have discovered music can work wonders to ones mood and that a little mum time out also helps, although I'm lucky to get 30seconds before a someone is outside my door.

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    1. I feel like I am not a good mum and housekeeper all the time. I think it is normal :) I hear you...even with my kids being a little older now I can be lucky to last 30 seconds as well. But I will take it. 30 seconds is better than nothing!

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  5. maria riderJanuary 15, 2013

    Thank you for this..the timing is spot on! i have 5 special boys(and 1 tomboy daughter) who these holidays have tested this weary and heavily pregnant mum! mind u the heat this summer hasnt helped either! will be getting the music happening with their first attempt at sabotage tomorrow!

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    1. Oh Maria! Being pregnant takes it to a whole different level :) Hoping you can find some more moments of peace these holidays xx

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  6. Great post! It's so important as mothers that we remember to listen to our inner voice, sometimes that time out it's telling us we need is really important! Plus talking about how we're feeling rather than trying to hide it is such a fantastic destressor.

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    1. Yes, our inner voice is a wonderful gift to help us know when we are heading towards our limit!

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  7. This is such a great post. I'm coming out of that phase at the moment. My third child is 15 months (the others are 3 & 6) and I feel like I'm just moving out of crazy tired. I've learned to recognise when I'm about to scream and I try to take a breath and say a quick "Lord give me some patience". It's just unrelenting when they're so little, sometimes a short break does wonders.

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    1. It is unrelenting and sleep makes a huge difference to how I can control myself. Wishing you a lot of sleep this year Francesca!

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  8. I kitchen dance to gangster rap. Really. I turn it up so loud I can barely stand it, shut my eyes and pretend I am in a stage somewhere in leather pants. I also pretend I am thin and carefree. Xx

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    1. I love a kitchen dancing session. Glad I am not the only one who likes to pretend I am thin :)

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  9. Great post! Thank-you xo

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  10. I've only recently began telling my boys when I'm feeling angry and taking myself to time out. It's made a huge difference in how we relate to one another. A great list, Naomi.

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  11. I call my husband and he talks to the kids for a bit to calm them down and give me a few min. They love talking on the phone and always wait patiently for a turn so I know I can get a few min quiet and gather my thoughts while Daddy makes them happy. I have also started going to the gym and doing more exercise has made me a calmer person, knowing I can go brings me peace plus exercise releases those happy hormones

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  12. I know about that two little boy theme, not factoring in five others ...boy oh boy.
    Great advice about restoring calm.
    I nearly fell off my treadmill laughingstock two little boys.

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  13. Thats an awesome post Naomi! My two little boys (again!) are JUST starting to get into cahoots together and sometimes instead of dealing I just have to shake my head and walk away for 5 minutes. I reckon having the radio on my computer helps a LOT - it makes them live in MY world, and not me in their Dinosaur Train Utopia. Makes a huge difference in my mindset if the house is MINE, not theirs. :)

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  14. thank you Naomi. I needed this. One child messes me up like 4 of yours in toddler age did...

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  15. Thank you very much for this Naomi! This is exactly what I needed. I found hope while I was reading your post and now I feel that I am not alone and I can definitely do something to get rid of this angry feeling. Thank you for sharing your strategies and I know that it will be of great help. :)

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  16. Ooh how this takes me back to the early years (ok, it was just three years ago when I was in 'that' stage but it seems longer!). It's great how, amongst the craziness of it all, we actually become proficient at creating new strategies that really work!

    Mine has always been 'the pause' - to just stop talking and moving (when I feel myself getting worked up), take some deep breaths and gently pull myself back to the present moment. Hugs help too - always :)

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  17. Naomi, thank you! So many of us forget that the struggles and frustrations of parenting we experience are also felt by other parents, and then inadvertently add guilt to the melting pot of emotions too. Accepting that it is perfectly normal is the first step in being able to cope with it better. I already use a few of your suggestions myself, but I am very grateful for the ones I haven't thought of.
    Who would have thought that being a mother would involve so much breathing?

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  18. Thank you for this. My husband is going on deployment soon for two weeks, and I haven't been away from him for more than a day before, so of course I'm stressing. And I think my two cherubs are picking up on it, because they have been testing my limits non stop. I think this will come in handy when I don't have Daddy here to look after them when he gets home.

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  19. Once again a fantastic post. Love "The Announcement". Definitely given me some ideas for my home. xox

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  20. Great list - thanks for both the tips and for reminding us we're all going through the same (stressful) thing. The Announcement made me simultaneously giggle and nod in understanding.

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  21. Thankyou, just what I needed today! I have 4 kids at home at the moment, 7years old and under. I am desparately trying to enjoy the rest of the school holidays but they're driving me crazy! Going to make myself a plan...

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  22. Oh thank goodness, someone who's not talking about how adorable and perfect there children are. I keep reading blogs about how many parents love the school holidays and spending every second with their kids and their oh so wonderful family life. School holidays for me are really stressful. We can't afford to go away or do very much. My husband works six days a week 14hrs a day, so with no daycare, no Kindy etc for at least 4 weeks, holidays almost kill me. The reality is we all have bad days, terrible days, so why can't we be honest with each other and talk about it. I love your music idea and The Announcement. I'll definitely be using those! Thank you!

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing your strategies Naomi. I've been looking for something exactly like this, but kept coming across blogs recommending that the parent show the child more love - as a tactic for dealing with a spectacularly defiant little 2.9yr old girl, I was feeling less than adequate! I'm a single mum, daddy lives in Africa, I lost my own mum to cancer last year & my dad is elderly & disabled. So to hear "real" strategies that are actually achievable for someone in my situation is a relief beyond compare! Thank you.

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  23. Be good parents are not an easy thing. Sometimes we have to sacrifice most of our likes. I’m a mom of two children and some time I feel so angry with my children. Most of the time it happens because of the stress I think. Thanks for sharing. I love this article and ideal for me.

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  24. Fantastic post Namoi! I've hit that time in the school holidays where it takes a lot to remain calm, love your tips. I'm sure I'll be using the Community Announcement soon LOL.

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  25. The honey over the head on the carpet - oh man that made me laugh, cry and cringe all at the same time!! Well done for getting through that one!

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  26. Having time out right now!! Got that one down pat but why oh why have I never asked for a hug or told them Im cranky?! I've told them to "please give me 2minutes quiet!" plenty (which they rarely listen to) but never thought to explain why. Gold.
    Only just found your blog via the Organised Housewife but I can tell I'll be by often. :-)

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  27. Thank you for this post, Naomi. It is exactly what I needed to read today! I have 3 boys under 7, they're driving me nuts today. Time for some serious mummy music time!

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  28. I'm really impressed with your anger management strategies and plan to adopt some. I only hope I remember them in the heat of the moment!

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  29. Oh how I needed to come across your blog today! I have seven children between the ages of 9 and 8 months. The last was a surprise pregnancy for us and it really did me in. The stress of the last year and a half has taken it's toll on my patience, and I feel horrible for all the yelling we have in our home now. My husband and I both are struggling with being calm on a daily basis and have felt almost helpless to change . I think we will go over your list and try implementing some soon. Thanks for the ideas!

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  30. Thankyou for sharing this! I really wish I read this before this evening dinner rush. I will be taking on board some?nearly all of these strategies.

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