Focus on Family: Keeping Your Cool With The Kids

Have you ever felt so frustrated at your kids that you’ve reacted in ways you NEVER thought you would? Have you done things like:

  • screamed your head off at them?
  • hit them and then felt terrible afterwards?
  • said things to them in anger that you didn’t really mean?
  • found yourself thinking, “This is not the kind of parent I ever thought I’d be?”

Keeping your coolIn today’s hectic world many parents are under a lot of stress and, as a result, there are times when they overreact to their children. Because we’re so close to those we love, our loved ones sometimes end up getting the bulk of our anger/discontent, even when they aren’t the cause of it. But you can learn to manage your emotions about life so that you don’t take things out on your kids.

It’s not uncommon for parents to be upset or preoccupied about one thing when something else the kids do or say pushes them over the edge.  It may be totally unrelated to what’s going on, but the next thing you know, your unsettled emotions are spilling over onto your kids.

Let’s say you’re stressed about work. You have an important project and the deadline is getting closer and closer.  Your boss is breathing down your neck and the client is putting more and more pressure on you.  You’re concerned and maxed out.  You come home and before you know it you are yelling at your teen for something he/she did. Many times it’s about something that started out relatively small, like your teen eating junk food before dinner or not turning off the TV when you tell her to.

In that moment, or later, you realize that you overreacted and took your emotions out on your child. You feel regretful and know that isn’t the kind of parent you want to be.  So, how do you become the loving parent that you’d like to be; the parent who is a fun companion when it’s appropriate and a caring disciplinarian when it’s needed?  You do this by becoming more aware of what’s going on inside yourself.  Turn your attention inward and become aware of what you’ve been feeling by asking yourself:

  • Am I overreacting to something relatively minor?
  • Am I preoccupied with a concern that’s unrelated to my kids?
  • What’s been on my mind, and in my heart, recently?
  • Was my child’s action or lack of action the final straw for me today?
  • How can I take care of my own needs so that I don’t take things out on my child/children?

As parents, it’s crucial that we be mindful of ourselves or we can end up inadvertently dumping our anger or stress out onto our kids. We need to make sure we’re not releasing emotion on them that’s really about something else. Our kids are going to do things that are irritating and bothersome. However, we can become more loving parents,by asking, “How can I do a better job of taking care of my needs so that I don’t take my own stress out on my child/children?”

In order to find out better ways to handle your emotions, schedule an appointment here at Couples Therapy Center. Call 908-246-3074, email

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