Anger Management 101: Mums have meltdowns too but…

Have you ever had a meltdown?

After Vera popped into our lives, I found myself being angry more often than I should. Joyful, yes, but angry too. I lost it when there was incessant crying, night wakings, and basically when tiredness and stress overwhelmed me.

Things got better after I got the hang of motherhood, but then the toddler threw it out of whack when she decided to exert her independence and showcase her intolerance for anything other than what ‘I WANT’.

At times, I would lose control and spank her harder than I should, while yelling “why are you acting so naughty?!” or “why can’t you listen to mummy?!” I even spanked with my bare hands — something I’ve told myself not to do because we have decided to use a small wooden spatula for disciplining, and we wanted very much to reserve our hands for loving.

Well, we also told ourselves that we would not try to discipline her when we were angry, as it’s easy to get out of control when wild emotions are ravaging your body.ย So I guess we failed in the very things we told ourselves not to do.

Looking back, I probably went through some of my darkest moments then — the guilt was over-powering. I became aware of the fact that I came from a family where yelling was a usual occurrence, and I had started to reproduce that same pattern of behaviour in my own household.

Yet, by some grace larger than our own, the hubby and I committed to learning through our mistakes; we worked together and tried to find solutions to each ‘new’ issue. And we set new boundaries for ourselves and our daughter, after learning each time what went right and what went wrong.

We re-strategised our disciplinary plan through each developmental stage that she went through. (Vera kept throwing us new curve balls after we thought we had her ‘figured out’.) I guess through that, we also learnt about our own flaws, and how to work better as a couple. (You simply have to work together. There is no other way. Inconsistent messages will just make things more confusing for your child.)

Today, I found out that yelling (including blame, name-calling, or belittling) can be as emotionally damaging as physically hitting a child.ย This came through a workshop on anger management held by the NUHย Women’s Emotional Health Service. I also re-learnt the reasons why we should try not to let anger get the better of us:

  • Children who are spanked become more aggressive themselves
  • The more corporal punishment is used, the greater the risk of escalation into child abuse
  • If you are constantly angry, you minimize the opportunities to bond with your child
  • Children of angry parents are less empathic, and have poorer overall adjustment later in life
  • Punishment may not be as effective in helping children internalize the value of good behaviour as compared to positive reinforcement and explaining
  • The long-term impact on your child could include low self-esteem, higher chance of depression, eating disorders in females, etc.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating no-spanking, period. But if spanking is a form of letting out your anger on your child, then I believe there can be a better way.

Here’s the good news: While we may be born with the potential to be aggressive, we CAN learn to channel our emotions into more constructive forms.

Here are some ideas that can help:

  • Do not react immediately (if you know that you are angry)
  • Step back, analyse the situation
  • Find out the cause for the action
  • Discuss and find solutions, rather than act on emotion
  • Develop a forgiving mindset (for yourself and for your loved ones)

Personally, I find that walking away from the ‘scene’ for a few minutes and just taking deep breaths as I walk does wonders.

Of course, humour works wonders too…

Anger management

How do you cope with your emotions when they run high?

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  1. DinoEgg says

    I dun have a puppy to sit on!

    My temper is the worst, depression does not help in controlling it, I hit the ceiling at teeny weeny thing. My son does not have a good babyhood, I just hope that he was too young to remember ๐Ÿ™ As I mature n understand myself better, learn more abt parenting n motherhood. I took control. I’m the Tiger Mum (in a way but not 100% same as THAT Tiger Mum), I also learn to walk away when I’m in anger, I tell my son tt I’m very upset and do not wish to talk to him now, then went back to talk to him after I calmed down. Same goes with him. I told him to do so too. It was working fine till late last year… meltdown! But thats due to some other issues which I have to look into when we are settled down in our new house. Have to re-educate him again.

    Listen with your heart, not with ur emotions.

    • says

      Hey J, thanks for sharing! I know we all have our own difficulties and struggles to deal with, but I think it’s good that you’re able to walk away and return calmer, and to teach your son that too! I mean, whatever that helps you to regain control, do it. I hope things will settle down for you guys soon!

  2. says

    Thanks for the honesty & keeping it real. I was thinking of writing a ‘keeping it real’ post. Think we need more of such posts to tell each other that we are all still learning, there’s no perfect moms- only striving to be better moms & we all have our moments. I tend to let my emotions get the better of me 90% of the time! Then guilt, then determine to do better, then fail again…. I guess, that’s why Jesus came to save us huh? It’s the sick who needs the doctor. His grace is sufficient for us! When I feel like the worst mom in the world, I remind myself where I am weak, He is strong. Oh sometimes, walking away doesn’t work for me. My 5 yr old will cry harder & louder. What works is a hug- it calms me and him down.

    • says

      When I am weak, He is strong. I like that reminder, thank you. A hug works for us too…But I need to calm down before I can hold my girl, and the minute I do that (even if she’s sitting on my lap), she starts to calm down quite quickly. So yea, kids really need to have that security amidst feeling such BIG emotions!

  3. says

    Hi June, I take time out too. Sometimes I lose with Dumpling over “attitude” issues and I ended up raising my voice at her. For a while (up to she was 2+), I actually raised my voice at her only thrice. But as she grows older, I realised that my fuse has gotten shorter because in my mind, I thought “she’d known better”.

    This is something which I am still working on. ๐Ÿ™‚ And yes, I do have 2 dogs at home!

    • says

      Haha, I’m glad you have two dogs to remind you of the picture above, Alicia. I think you have a rather calm approach to parenting and discipline, which is great! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. says

    I find reminding myself to lower my voice and bringing her to a corner really helps. Also I agree that u just got to wait a while before disciplining just so we dont discipline in anger. Great post btw! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. says

    I have grown to be more patient and less angry after I became a SAHM. At first, I was more impatient. Then I became more patient. You see, I mainly get angry when I am coaching them in their studies. After a few episodes of me getting angry and impatient, and them feeling stupid, and sometimes crying, and me having to apologise, and comfort them, and wasting lotsa of time trying to get them back in the mood, I decided that it is a waste of time getting angry. So for me, it is a lot of self-talk. “Calm down, he is not trying to NOT know his work. He really does not understand. So why scold him? It is not helpful” or “Calm down, yes, he is getting distracted, but speaking to him in an angry voice will get him angry, and he will start accusing you (you know how your son is), and you will have to apologise, and then everyone will get even more distracted, so just remind him nicely, to focus”. I don’t always succeed in controlling myself. But I am getting better at it.

    • says

      Hi Elisa, thanks for sharing about your own struggles coaching the kids. I haven’t got to that stage yet, but I can imagine how it will tax my patience already. ๐Ÿ˜› I think self-talk is a great strategy, reminding ourselves that actually hey they’re just kids, and they needs lots of encouragement and guidance along their learning and growing journey. In my follow-up post, I will be sharing a little on this too!

  6. says

    For me, leaving the scene is the best way to keep my emotions in check. I’ll get hubby to take over before I do or say anything to hurt Sophie when I’m really mad, which tends to happen when she is whiny and i’m over tired. I just got to remember that she’s still learning the rules -that shouting, whining and crying will not get her her way. And she has to be reasonable as well. Tough lessons so learn for a toddler, but we try out best to teach her.

    • says

      Indeed these are tough lessons for the toddler, I think it’s great that you can remind yourself that it’s not easy for her too! Thanks Susan for sharing your experience. ๐Ÿ™‚