Many parents get angry – particularly with each other. But be careful, your anger can have huge effects on your child’s personality and behaviour.

Be consistent

If your relationship is fragile don’t use your children to score points. Stay on the same page when enforcing the house rules so your child won’t become confused about what behaviour is acceptable. Anger does have a purpose in parenting. You can use it as a signal that something’s wrong and a warning against danger. But expressing it in a positive way shows that you love your child and are committed to steering him along the right path.

Use positive discipline

Use positive discipline Let your child know you don’t approve of what he’s doing, but communicate your feelings without focusing on him. Focus on the behavior itself. Don’t say, “It was so mean of you to hit your sister”; say “hitting isn’t kind”. Understand why he acts up Your child doesn’t act out deliberately to make life difficult for you. He’s at an age when he can’t control his impulses and can’t focus his mind on a long list of chores. He might be too young to express his own frustration verbally so yes, he hits his sister. But having you hit out at him or react to him with verbal aggression won’t cure him of that tendency . In fact it’ll teach him the very behaviour you’re trying to curb.

Don’t punish your child in anger

Anger tends to overtake rational thought and if you discipline your child when you’re not in control, you’ll be reacting out of emotion and not thinking logically. Don’t let your anger result in harsh punishment, take time to cool off instead of doing something you might regret. Otherwise you won’t be using discipline to guide your child towards good behaviour – you’ll be using it to work off your anger.

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Understand why you’re angry

When you get angry with your child it’s often due to you misinterpreting his actions. Your child wants to please you and make you happy – but his attention span is short and he often has a totally different agenda from yours.

Face up to your anger

Look at the ways in which you express your anger and frustration. Do you hold it inside until you explode in sheer rage? Do you let it out in an overcritical way that focuses entirely on your child’s character? Do you express it in an aggressive way in order to dominate others and get control of difficult situations? Remember that your child learns by imitation and he will copy you when it comes to expressing his own anger.

Your anger and your child

Kids don’t see shades of grey – they don’t realise your anger with them isn’t personal, but is actually a projection of your anger and disappointment with each other. In this type of situation, they only see that Mum and Dad are angry with them all the time. See it from your child’s point of view. Maybe he can’t do anything without hearing the words ‘no’, ‘can’t’, don’t’, ‘shouldn’t’. His self-esteem and confidence suffer because he thinks Mum and Dad don’t love him. And because he knows he can’t match up to what they want, he becomes aggressive and destructive.

What is the biggest challenge you encounter when raising your child?

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