Monday, May 23, 2005

I Never Get Mad at My Kids

by Anne Zelenka
Yeah, right.

Suzanne of Mimilou fame wrote about Anger Management yesterday and asked, "how do you handle those moments when your kid(s) push you to the edge? It happens to you, too, right? Right?"

Yes! It happens to me. It happens to my husband. I wonder what the neighbors think. They compliment our son on his trumpet scales and ask if my two-year-old has woken in the middle of the night lately. But they never comment on the loud yelling that characterizes much of our after-dinner interaction. How tactful of them.

Lately I'm not getting angry with the kids as often, since we instituted stricter rules. I typed up the rules of the house and posted them on the fridge. They include things like "be kind to each other" and "don't run in the house." I also typed up what happens if you don't follow the rules. After one warning, you get the timeout chair--one minute for each year of age.

Last night four-year-old Anna earned the timeout chair. She was arguing with us about whether she could have a snack. It was five minutes until her bedtime and I told her the kitchen was closed. She continued to press and whine. I considered giving in, but fortunately Rick put her in the timeout chair. Then she was so angry she wouldn't go downstairs for bed. In my most authoritative voice, I got her downstairs without physically touching her. It required three times of "get downstairs and brush your teeth." She wouldn't let me say goodnight to her but I felt great--I wasn't angry; I was in control.

The more I feel control, the less I feel angry. Still, it's hard to use the timeout chair. I'd usually rather not hassle with it. But it pays off down the road because the kids know we mean it when we tell them to follow the rules.


Blogger Marjorie said...

I find that I get more frustrated with my kids than angry. How do I deal? I yell. Can't say it produces satisfying results. I send them to their room -- I don't call it 'time-out' but thats probably what it is, I want them out of my face so we can both calm down.

Generally, my kids aren't defiant, which would make me really angry. I've noticed they get defiant when they've had sugar, so we don't keep many sweets around the house. My husband is the one who gives them cookies but then they become his problem, not mine. He's much more even-tempered than I am, so he can handle the sugar swings.

What I found helps me feel really calm is strenuous exercise. It also exhausts me, but I feel less frustrated.

5:55 AM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

I'm looking forward to the time when a list of rules can be codified and posted and, most important, followed. Right now, I try hard to be very consistent with discipline -- for example, following through with statements like "If you do such and such one more time, then ______". I don't know if it's working, but I comfort myself by thinking that at least I'm trying!

10:09 AM  
Blogger dgm said...

i'm a big fan of the deep breaths, for myself and my kids. when my kids get all in a dither about something, i kneel to their level and say, "i'd like you to give me 3 deep breaths before i talk to you." my 2 y.o. has no problem; my almost 7 y.o. is much more stubborn, but once she sees that i won't talk to her until she's done as i asked, she does it. i think it helps to physically calm them down. as i said, i use it myself.

as for the yelling, i really have to fight the urge to do this. i'm generally not a yeller (that is, my husband and i have never yelled at each other) but you know, kids have that special way of bringing it out in us. it makes me feel horrible to yell, though, so what i tell myself is, "you're kids are watching you." this is my signal that they are taking a lesson from my own behavior and if i don't want them yelling at me, i have to show them other ways to express their anger and frustration. as we tell my overly dramatic daughter (a redundancy, i know), it's okay for you to feel mad; it's not okay to express it by hitting and yelling.

6:05 AM  

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