Are you ever angry at your kids?

I came home, tired, frustrated. My daughter was dancing, the music in the living room a few thousand decibels too loud. My wife was upstairs working and didn't hear me come in. My daughter gave me a look. I yelled "Turn down the music". She gave me another look. And I became very angry in a flash.

Does that sound like something you recognize? Well, in each our own way, most of us can. We all get angry, become unreasonable at times. And whether it takes a minute, an hour a day or years, most us will recognize that that was not very fair and feel guilty.

When you are under consistent stress, pressure, the moments that this happens can become more regular and more intense. They sure did with me.

What made it really clear was when my daughter gave me a different look. One that said you are always so angry. I get scared. I don't like this. My wife gave me a look that confirmed my increased anger.

I did the 4 things that anyone of us can do when this happens.

1. I recognized it was about me. It was for me to deal with my own anger. I decided to stop my self from pointing the finger at all the things they needed to do differently. I started to own my own feelings and take responsibility for them.

2. I apologized to both my daughter and wife. I said that it was not how I wanted to be with them. That I was going to change it. That I might need their help to remind me when I stepped into that old pattern of dealing with my own issues, stress and anger.

3. I changed my behavior. Step by step. I looked at what triggered my anger. I looked for what made me tired, frustrated when I walked into the door those evenings. I needed to changed that. In me. In how I dealt with that. I realized that it wouldn't change in one big sweep. That I would have moments of relapse that I needed to be kind with myself for.

4. I ask for their help. We came up with ways that they could signal me, by saying an agreed upon sentence, that would stop me in my tracks. I would stop talking go to another room to cool off. We agreed that they would give me 15 minutes to change when I came home, have a shower, a cup of tea, whatever I needed then and let me be.

And yes, my daughter would turn down the music, so she wouldn't trigger me unnecessarily.

5. We agreed on positive, fun things we could do together. By talking about how my anger affected them, we also arrived at how we really wanted to be together as a family. And made some small plans to do fun stuff. And together we turned it around.

And how about the guilt I felt? Guilt is energy wasted on yourself and not used to make things better with another. Whether it is giving gifts, showing endless feelings of remorse or trying to get them to say that they have forgiven you. When it is driven from guilt it is not about them, it is about getting something for you. A reduced sentence, less pain. Anything coming from guilt is not a free gift. It has strings attached that serve you, not the other.

Part of owning your own feelings is dealing with your feelings of guilt. When you recognize that they don't help you or them, just let them go. Focus on your action to change your behavior. And do something fun.

Just because you want to. With the people you love.

Author's Bio: 

Wouter van der Hall, author of The Parent Program has worked in Child Welfare for decades, in Europe and North America. He uses his experience and diverse education to provide parents with easily accessible tools, skills and knowledge. To help them to be the great parent they can be.
So their kids can flourish as they want them to.

Wouter combines his traditional social work education (BSW and MSW Management Education and Coaching) with the tools the business world pays big bucks for. He is a certified The Human Element, Myers Briggs Type Indicator and True Colors trainer.
He had many (leadership) roles in Child Welfare, taught social work both in Amsterdam and in Canada, but it was as a management consultant that he truly saw how all parents want to be their best for their kids. His trainees, from executives to road crew foremen, ran home to use the tools he gave them for more open communication and better conflict resolution with their families.
He refocused on his life long passion for children and families and now dedicates himself full time to making these tools and skills accesible to parents world wide.

He has been fortunate to travel far and wide and has seen parents poor and rich, educated and illiterate, all try to make things better for their children. He dedicates his work to these millions of parents
You can reach wouter at