“Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way- that is not easy.”

When you are feeling emotional upset within yourself, acknowledge the emotion and shift the feeling before you interact with your child. We all feel anger and frustration at times, but just as we teach our children not to take out their frustrations on things, animals, or people; neither should we. As parents, many of us are guilty of reacting in the moment based on how we feel. If we are angry or upset with a spouse, friend, family member or a business associate, it can lead to our propensity to yell at our kids or take out our frustration on them in some way which leads to a disconnection with our child. My mom gave me advice many years ago to always stop and count to 10 before I responded to one of my kids, which sounded great in theory, but often the emotion comes on so strongly and the thought of counting to 10 doesn’t even enter my mind. Needless to say, my mom probably repeated those words 10 or 15 times before I got it…. The point is it takes practice, but a good way to shift out of a moment of frustration or anger with your child is to become aware of what your body feels like or what thoughts are in your head before you respond to your child. Some people call this shifting your energy or shifting your personal reactive style before engaging with your child. It does take practice and the first few times you may respond with the old pattern, but its okay! Parenting is an evolutionary process and the key to transforming anything is to first bring awareness to it. It’s only when you are aware of a change needing to take place that you can then do something to transform it. We model the behavior we want our children to have and I am sure we’ve all had to correct our child and teach them not to take out their frustrations on other children, siblings, animals or toys. We need to be conscious of the fact that our children watch how we react to things and model what they see. If you as a parent choose to focus on any new shift for the New Year, I would highly recommend this one, because the impact on ourselves and our children is too great to be ignored. There is good news however. If we find ourselves responding to our child from a place of anger or upset, we can reconnect by acknowledging what happened; accept how your child may feel and what feelings come up for you; and apologize. We are all humans and we make mistakes.

I remember an instance with my oldest son where I sent him to his room for something (probably picking on his brother) and I must have responded angrily, because I felt badly afterward. I went to his room where he was sitting on the bed; sat down and really had a heart to heart with him about how this is my first experience as a parent, discussed whatever the issue was, and explained I am learning too. Next, I brought us to a place of common ground by sharing how I was the oldest child in my family and I remember the feelings I used to have in regard to my being punished and that often my siblings weren’t. I just really connected with him by sharing our common bonds and admitting I am a human being capable of making errors and being respectful enough to admit it and apologize.

A way you can strengthen your intuition here to determine when it’s appropriate to apply one of these techniques versus a real need for correction (or positive discipline), is to pay attention to how you feel after you have an argument with your child? If you feel guilty or you feel badly, it is probably your conscience alerting you to the need to reconnect with your child. The greatest thing you can EVER do is reconnect with your child, especially when they are young. This is a great technique to fall back on when they are teenagers, because when coercion or what most people call the- “fear factor” doesn’t work anymore, you will be glad you created space for a connection with your child. It is the only guaranteed bond you will have at a very deep level. When you are willing to admit you are wrong, you show your child how to correct their own mistakes. They will respect your authority when they are doing something inappropriate. A lot of parents have a difficult time with the concept of apologizing to their child. Given how most of us were brought up and societal conditioning, I can understand why this could be a challenge, but many years ago my mom shared with me some sage advice she received from my great- grandmother. She said- you aren’t just given respect, you have to earn it. The same is true for parents. If we want our children to respect us, we must respect them as well. We must be willing to reach out to them when we have yelled at them or disciplined them and be willing to acknowledge our actions, and accept the way we made them feel, because as I have said to my husband a million times, whether we “think” or agree with how our child is feeling in the moment, their feelings are very real to them and isn’t that what matters most?

Lastly, apologize for your actions if you feel they were driven by your own emotion over something. This demonstrates a level of respect and maturity we would most like to see from our kids. They will learn this once again by how we model our actions for them. This method will teach your child valuable skills for correcting their own mistakes, how they can repair their own relationships, but most of all they will feel like human beings because their dignity will remain in tact. Something important to remember is that children may be smaller, but they are still people and have as many (and probably more) feelings than we have. Most of all, they will respect you when the time comes that you need to firmly set boundaries or discipline them in some way. They will respect your authority.

Author's Bio: 

Tara received her parent coach certification through the Academy for Coaching Parents International, is a recognized Certified Coach for Parents of Intuitives as well as an ACPI trainer; is a columnist for Children of the New Earth, an online publication and American Chronicle Newspapers; and is a parenting advisor for ParentalWisdom.com and Momference.com.

She is also the founder of JustForMom.com, Moms In Print, the Just For Mom foundation and the Mom's Choice Awards.