If you never get angry with your kids, that’s great. I mean that in a completely, non-snarky way. Some people don’t struggle with anger, and I’m glad. I rarely struggled with anger…and then I had kids. I think it has something to do with sleep deprivation…

My four-year old is a particularly delightful, energetic and opinionated smart cookie, if I do say so myself. Yet sometimes I get very angry with her. From talking with other parents, I get the drift that many of our parents never taught us what to do when we felt very sad or hurt or angry. Worse yet, many of our parents refused to let us express any negative emotions at all. And if we don’t know how to handle our big emotions, how are we supposed to teach our kids how to handle their big emotions? Here are some ideas for getting our own anger (especially toward our kids) under control.

Take Responsibility

Notice I said sometimes I get angry with my kiddo. I didn’t say she makes me angry. Because the truth is, our kids can’t make us anything. The anger is all on us. We shoulder the responsibility for our feelings and any action we take based on those feelings.

Remember: They’re Kids

Our kids are learning. It’s our job to guide them. They need lots and lots of practice. Keeping this perspective in the forefront of our minds keeps us from expecting them to act like mini adults.

Identify Triggers

When do you get angry with your kiddos?

I’m all good with spilled milk or potty accidents. No biggie there.

Ironically enough, my daughter’s big emotions trigger my big emotions. Meltdowns, defiance and whining trigger my anger. Knowing what triggers my anger helps me see when trouble is coming.

Watch Your Self-Talk

When I’m getting angry, I find it helps to remind myself (out loud if necessary), “My daughter is four. I’m an adult. This is an opportunity for me to guide her, not to yell at her.”

Find a Positive Image

I found when I was getting angry, the images in my head weren’t helpful ones. So I found a helpful one. I picture my kiddo and I walking down a path with me guiding her along. Conjuring up this image helps remind me of my goals for parenting in the first place.

Slow Down

The busier I am, the easier it is for me to think a clean house and quiet children are what’s most important. When I create margins in our days and weeks, it’s much easier for me to remember that parenting my children should be at the top of my priorities.

Take Care of Yourself

It’s much easier to stay calm when you’re well-rested. And eating halfway decently. And taking some time for yourself.

Walk Away

If you’re too upset to be kind, walk away. Take a breath. Count to ten. Whatever you need to do.

Avoid Angry Touch

Commit to never touching your kiddos in an angry way. This doesn’t just include the obvious angry touch such as hitting, but it also includes any unnecessary roughness when putting on a coat or combing hair. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t ever touch your kids while you’re angry, just not in an angry way. Sometimes I find giving my daughter a big bear hug can diffuse a situation. But if I can’t touch nicely, I don’t touch at all.

Apologize When Necessary

When should you say “I’m sorry”? Each and every time you mess up. You don’t need to be sorry for being angry or for appropriately expressing frustration with your kiddos. But when you act inappropriately with your kids, apologize quickly.

Get Help If Needed

If you find your anger is out of control, please get help. Anger can be a sign of depression or other underlying problems. A professional can give you lots of strategies to cope in your individual situation.

How do you deal with anger toward your kids?