Sometimes You Just Get Mad

by Julia H.

I feel absolutely certain that all of the members of our preschool community are great parents (or, even if you aren't feeling like a particularly great parent, you're trying to be one). It's easy to come up with great parenting strategies when the kids are asleep (as mine were when I wrote this), but then they wake up and do unexpected stuff and, well, sometimes it makes you mad.

Hot lava mad. Steam boiling out of your ears mad. Thinking (but probably trying hard not to say out loud) the absolute worst, most hurtful things.

In moments of calm, it's easy to remember some of the things we learn from positive parenting - kids who misbehave are feeling disconnected, they just don't know exactly how to reconnect; it's more effective in the long run (and a better model for behavior) to respond with love and kindness...but how the heck do you do that?

The good news is that, as with any skill, you can get better at it with practice. Here are some simple guidelines that may help you manage your anger when your kids really push your buttons:

  • Break out of the angry feeling: everyone is going to have their own technique that will work best for them, but some I've tried include singing what I want to say in a silly voice instead of yelling, doing weird and crazy dance moves, and going and getting a glass of water. Pretty much anything that will break the escalating anger cycle would work.

  • Cool off: This is the hardest one for me, which probably means it's the most important - put yourself in time out, lie down on the spot and close your eyes, practice some yoga breathing exercises. Give your body an opportunity to process some of the adrenaline.

  • Come back and apologize: Once you've broken out of the anger of the moment, it's important to model the behavior you'd like to see in your kids. Oftentimes that means that you'll need to apologize. "I'm sorry, I really lost my temper. Can we try again to communicate and be on the same team?" 

Don't get down on yourself if you get mad sometimes - everyone does! And parenting is hard - you're tired (and probably dehydrated), you have huge amounts of intimidating responsibility, and your kids are still learning how to be nice - and are practicing the full range of manipulative behavior on you, because you are someone they know they can trust. It's a lot to deal with. But you can do this! 

(Quick reminder: Civil rights conversations aren't just for MLK Jr. Day! Maybe you could show your kids pictures of some of the grownup members of the preschool who marched on Saturday, and talk about why they did it?)