I don’t really think of myself as having a hot temper. But I do have trouble speaking up when something starts to bother me. Thus, the irritant builds and builds, and instead of becoming a pearl, like a grain of stand does in an oyster, it explodes … usually on the person whose behavior I don’t care for and is responsible for making me look and act like a monster.
I’ve been talking about this with my therapist. Because I can remember nothing more horrifying as a kid as those time my dad totally lost it and threw every four-letter word at my mom, or at me or one of my sisters, or all of us, like the time we were making fun of the people in the booth next to us in Dairy Queen. Still can’t get a Buster Bar today without that memory, spanking and all.
So I went back to my parenting books, of course. Because you can find all of life’s problems in parenting books. Author Elizabeth Pantley offers six steps to staying calm in her insightful book, “The No-Cry Discipline Solution.” And, unlike those I read in most parenting books, they don’t annoy me! In fact, I think she’s got a good case. I’ve excerpted from various paragraphs to give you the following recap, but you really should get her book if you struggle, like I do, with keeping it cool when you’re with the kids:
As you sense your control slipping–STOP. If you are in the middle of a sentence–STOP–don’t even finish your thought, except perhaps to say, “I’m getting mad!” If you are moving–STOP moving. Practice a STOP gesture that can be used as a way to put a physical brake on your emotions. A good STOP gesture is to hold your hands up in front of your face, fingers straight up, palms out. Push the anger away from you, and at the same time say the word STOP.
What if you are so angry at your child that you are ready to strike him and you cannot find the restraint to use your STOP gesture? In that case, channel your physical reaction into a burst of applause. When you feel yourself about to strike, clap your hands. Clap them hard and fast, while you express your feelings of anger.
This anger management technique of acknowledging anger and stopping yourself can be used for all problems. It can be effective with everything from minor irritations that bring irrational anger to major problems that require a clear head to solve.