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Feeling angry

anger; parent; child; feelings; angry; temper; depressed; guilt; tired; abuse; aggression; child abuse. ;

There are times in all parents' lives when they feel very angry with their children or even that they don't like their children. Most of the time they manage to handle it OK, but sometimes the anger can be in danger of getting out of control. If you find yourself feeling angry a lot of the time it is usually because something is going wrong in your life, not because you are a bad parent or there is something wrong with you. You may need to get help to find out what the matter is and to change it.

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Although parents usually look forward to parenting as something that will be mostly happy, there are times when all parents feel very angry with their children or even that they don't like their children.

It is important to think about when these times happen, so you can make sure that your children are kept safe. It is also important to try to work out and deal with whatever is causing your anger, for your own sake as well as for your children.

ALERT!
If you sometimes feel very angry and your child is in danger of being hurt, you should put the child somewhere safe and then take a break yourself until you can manage your feelings.

What causes anger? 

There are times in all parents' lives when they feel very angry. Most of the time they manage to handle it OK, but sometimes the anger can be in danger of getting out of control.

Anger is always a mixture of feelings - it can come from being depressed, feeling guilty, feeling disappointed, feeling frustrated, not feeling valued and useful, or just plain tiredness. If you can, think about what feeling is mixed up with your anger, it will help you to understand what is causing it. Then you need to try to do something about the cause.

If you find yourself feeling angry a lot of the time it is usually because something is going wrong in your life, not because you are a bad parent or there is something wrong with you. You may need to get help to find out what the matter is and to change it.

What you can do when you are angry

  • Sometimes anger is caused by what you are saying to yourself. For example if your child has a tantrum
    • and you say to yourself "Why should I take this - I've got to show this child who's boss" you will feel angry and perhaps punish the child.
    • if you say to yourself "I can see my child is so upset that she can't manage her feelings at the moment" you are more likely to be able to keep calm and to help your child learn to manage her feelings.
  • Get to know your own body signals that anger is building up and act before it gets out of control. Don't wait until lots of things have upset you so you end up having a big explosion.
  • Work out when you are most likely to lose your temper, and plan to do something different at those times to stop this happening, e.g. when you first get home from work do something physical or something that relaxes you.
  • Think about what is most relaxing for you personally. This is different for different people - it may be have a cup of tea, have a bath, read a book, go for a walk, listen to music etc.
  • Get some space....go outside, go for a walk or a run. If you have very young children and no-one to mind them, take them with you.
  • Take a break. If possible get someone to mind the children for a while and take some time out for yourself.
  • Talk about your feelings to another adult who understands. Ring a friend.
  • Talk to the children.... If they are old enough, tell them how you feel without blaming them, otherwise they are likely to blame themselves e.g. "I feel angry because I am tired" - not -"You make me angry".

In a crisis, if you are really about to hurt your child, make sure the child is safe and go into another room until you are feeling settled down. Make a cup of tea, listen to music, whatever helps you. Say to the child even if it is a baby, "Mummy/Daddy has to go and calm down first, I'll be back as soon as I can".

  • If you need to, ring a Parent Helpline because you care about yourself and your children.
  • Remember that children never intend or set out to make their parents angry.

What you can do to prevent it
  • Try not to let things build up so they get too much and you lose your temper.
  • Often parents get angry because they are tired and stressed. If this is happening to you, sit down and see if you can re-plan your day.
  • If you can, talk to someone (eg your partner or a close friend) about the feeling underneath the anger; it often helps in managing the anger. Try to do something about whatever is causing the underlying feeling if you can.
  • If you have not learned ways to show you are angry without being hurtful to other people it could help to go to a course about communication and assertiveness (being able to get your point over without getting angry).
  • If the anger goes on in spite of everything you try it is worth getting some help from a professional counsellor.

It can be very damaging to children to go on living in a home where there are lots of angry voices and actions, even if the anger is not directed at them.

See the topics 'Yelling' and 'More than just arguments - domestic violence'.

If your partner is angry
  • When both are feeling OK try to work out a plan for what to do in an angry time. For example you might decide that the person who is feeling uncomfortable with the other's anger will leave (and perhaps take the children too) until the anger has calmed down. Then act on your plan.
  • Be prepared afterwards to talk about what caused the anger and to really listen to each other's point of view.
  • No-one is responsible for another person's anger or for what they do when they are angry.
    • When one person does something, how other people react depends on how they take it - and that is different with different people.
    • Some people might be angry, others sad and it may not worry others at all.
    • Each of us is responsible for our own feelings and how we show them.
    • It is everyone's responsibility to make sure they do not show their anger in ways that harm others.
  • Remember no one has to take abuse from any one else and it is important to get professional help if this is happening.

Resources

South Australia

Australia

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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