Wednesday, October 05, 2005

How Do You Handle Your Monster Days? Anger Management for Parents.

Are you tired of screaming at your children? I am. I know I have to stop. I'm beginning to see signs of anger MISmanagement in my children and I hate to say it may be because of my bad modelling...and my husband's too. Yea, didn't think I was going to take the rap all by myself did ya? It's tough to handle the rising emotions especially when you're tired and stressed. It's like trying to stop a bullet train with your bare hands. It's so much easier to just let it go, let it all out. But like everything else in life, easy is not the way to go. Actually, I handle myself better when the children are very, very young (like below 3 years old). Expectations are less. I realize my older daughter gets more of "monster mommy" than her younger brother. It's the expectations; I expect her to know better, know more, do more, be more and be better. You think I'm asking for too much? Yup, sometimes it does get unfair. So, here's another step towards better, happier parenting.

Lim Ai Lian is going to:

1. Stop using threats. Stop focusing on what my kids WON'T get if they misbehave. Rather focus on what they WILL get when they obey. For example:

  • Negative: If you don't pick up your toys I will throw them all away. (So easy to say this hor? The words just tumble out without thinking.)
  • Positive: If you do pick up your toys, we will have such a nice home. People won't fall down and your toys will thank you for sending them home. (Sounds so much nicer but takes so much effort and planning.)

Isn't it unfortunate that the negative is effortless and the positive requires work.

2. Breathe deeply when I start to feel the anger rising. Must try distraction method e.g. time out myself, count sheep, recite scripture (Psalm 15:1) etc.... Probably need husband's help on this one. This strategy has been very difficult for me to do as I tend to react before I can catch myself. Then it feels so good to let it out I want to keep going. You ever go through that? But I know it can be done. Take for instance, when in a crowded place and my kid is making a fuss, I don't blow my top. I am able to keep my tone down. Why?

  • Image. Don't want people to see my ugly side. Yeah, at least I know it's ugly.
  • Don't want to create a scene and draw more attention.
  • Unconsciously you worry about people judging badly about you e.g. "Wah, what a horrible mother. How can she do or say such thing?" Rather you want to act in a way that have people thinking "She's a good mother. Look how well she handled that annoying kid."

Anyway, the fact that I can do it when others are observing means I can also do it when no one is observing.

3. Focus on problem solving. Stop the blaming. Remember to contribute to the solution and not the problem.

4. Daily evaluation and planning. I have already made a pack with my husband that we are going to sit down every night and evaluate the day. What were some things we handled well? What are some things we need to do better? If a certain problem crops up again, what is our plan? What are we going to say? Did our plan work? Do we need to change the plan? I know some of you are familiar with the following definition of INSANITY = DOING THE SAME THING BUT EXPECTING DIFFERENT RESULTS. I don't plan to stay in my insanity.

So there you have it. Ai Lian's anger management plan. By the way, here are some very interesting links on the topic.


  1. Hi Ai Lian, everything seems so easy in theory, isn't it? I have to consciously tell myself all the time to address the situation. If the child spills water, he/she is not clumsy. If a child misbehave, he/she is not a bad child. Address the action. Am I making sense? I feel very hurt when someone tells a child who had just fallen "Aiya, you're so clumsy lah".

  2. Hi Ai Lian, we mummies are like Mrs Jekyll and Mdm Hyde. Can be quite scary for the kids don't you think? I actually wrote something along the same lines but it was in draft and I forgot about it. Must have been written in a fit of anger. Haha.


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