Like many, I admit I get stressed with work. Recently, I’ve begun taking my anger out on my kids when I get home and fear I’m becoming a serial ‘yeller’. What can I do?
Rest assured what you describe is not uncommon. The ‘struggle to juggle’ is a well-known phenomenon and is a consequence of the modern fast-paced lifestyles we live today. In reality, your role as a professional person is in conflict with your other role as the ‘perfect parent’.
OK, let’s get this clear – there’s no such thing as ‘perfect’ parent. You may feel everyone else appears to be brilliant but is never the case. How people ‘appear’ and how they ‘are’, often differ tremendously. So, don’t worry about being the only person with these concerns. What you should be concerned about, is being the most caring, dependable and loving parent, you can possibly be.
Give yourself a break. You’re frustrated and upset, and you’re left wondering where it went wrong and why it always comes down to a yelling match. He who screams loudest doesn’t come away victorious in this battle. In fact, you’re more likely to be deflated and exhausted by the experience and end up becoming even more stressed. What you need to avoid is taking stress back home with you.
Effective communication is the key. You need to learn how to alter the way you communicate with your kids. They’ve seen you lose control many times and now see that as your default setting. Don’t forget as the adult you are the one in control, you’re also the one who can choose not to have the screaming contest with your child at all. If you walk away to defuse and neutralise the situation you can (and should) always go back and deal with the behaviour at a later time.
In my experience, kids don’t like it when a parent isn’t in control, so make the message clear and simple – no shouting, no yelling, I will not be drawn… but I am in charge. Learning to talk differently with your kids takes time, practice and patience – but the rewards are more than worth the effort.
Do you need ‘time space’? This is when you know you’re in danger of yelling, so you define 10 minutes as your own personal ‘time space’ in your room. Let everyone know what you’re doing is important you. This is the void where you metaphorically switch from work to home, from professional to parent. Stay quiet, relax your breathing, disengage momentarily with everything and emerge ready to face whatever. Because you’ve had time to unwind you can plan a more constructive way to react to any genuine behavioural issues as they arise.
If you systematically rely on screaming to get your kids to obey you, all you’re teaching them is that yelling is the only way to get things done. Why not lead by example and focus on teaching them problem-solving skills instead. In life, shouting at a problem does not generally make it disappear and often it only serves to make matters worse. So why would you routinely use this method on children? Don’t forget if yelling is normal and an everyday occurrence for them, it’s difficult for you to maintain perspective on misbehaviour. They will have become immune to your shouting and then you won’t have it in your parenting arsenal.
It’s always OK for parents to speak with authority to kids – this is effective parenting. However, becoming furious and then upping the ante to a full-blown screaming match doesn’t help, especially if it’s over nothing in particular.
There are two ‘takes’ for you to focus on, time and control. Take time to unwind and to plan your parental approach. Take control because you are the one they’re looking to for guidance and authority.
Russell Hemmings is a Life Coach and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist, author of The Mind Diet and Active Positive Parenting. Contact Russell on +971 55286 7275 or www.russellhemmings.co.uk.