Parents and children may have many difficult encounters where anger could escalate to aggression. One of the hardest moments to maintain parental self-control is when your child is acting out and you are being triggered into anger by his or her behavior or attitude.
Should a parent discipline when angry?
It is important to remember that discipline is not an emotional event. In fact the less anger, the greater the effectiveness of discipline.
One of the critical components to effective discipline is calmness. There are some great benefits to staying calm:
- If you remain calm it will allow you to maintain control over your reactions and responses. If you do, children are less likely to have the power to “push your buttons.”
- Your calmness will invite your children to be calmer.
- Calmness helps a parent think more clearly, stay focused, be assertive and decisive.
- Calmness helps a parent avoid feeling and behaving in an angry way.
So, what does calmness look like?
A parent who is calm will typically:
- Use a firm voice
- Be reasonably soft spoken
- Speak slowly, clearly, with control
- Describe specific expectations
- Use appropriate eye contact
- Own an unwillingness to plead, get into a debate or battle
- Use shoulder shrugging – project an “Oh well” attitude (indicating consequences)
- Use physical contact such as a touch on the shoulder
- Use the “Broken Record Technique” (by calmly repeating an expectation or direction)
- Use phrases like “That may be” and “I understand that” and “I still want you to…”
- Use slow and deliberate movements or just remain silent
- Know that non-verbal messages may speak louder that words and may give you a chance to fake being calm
- Use I-Messages
- Refuse to be rushed
How to develop calm
How do we learn how to become calm? Just as with most challenges, we have to practice in real life situations.
So, the next time you are exasperated with your child, think about the impact you are having and practice some of the activities that we have mentioned above. I think you will see a major difference in your child, particularly when you use these tips consistently.
But if it is a big change in how you have acted in the past, they may think you are up to something! So, let them know that you are trying to be a calm and confident parent as you help them grow and mature.
I will continue in my next post to illustrate the idea of being calm. It is an essential part of effective discipline.
Gerry Vassar, President and CEO, Lakeside Educational Network
Information taken from Preventing Violence through Anger Management, 2006, Diane Wagenhals. Licensed Materials. All rights reserved.