It happens to the best parents now and then. But studies show that consistently losing your temper around your children hurts them in the classroom and on the playground. So, here are a few tips from to experts on ways to handle “father freak-outs” and “mommy meltdowns”:
If you lose your cool in front of your kids, admit it was a mistake. Because it’ll help them learn from your experience. Child psychologist Dr. Jerry Deffenbacher suggests saying, "I’m sorry. I shouldn't have yelled like that." But don’t over-explain, or you could turn your kid into a therapist, and drag them even deeper into your drama.
So, what should you do if your child sees you arguing with your spouse? Don’t try to explain the fight. Anger management expert Charles Spielberger says sharing that information will only confuse your kids. Instead, explain that family members occasionally disagree even though they love each other, and that you’ll do things differently next time.
What if you yell at someone who cuts you off in traffic? Explain right away that you overreacted. Try, “What they did was dangerous and made me mad. But yelling didn’t make it better.”
Remember your teenagers as babies. Sandra Thomas is coauthor of Use Your Anger. And she admits that older children can be obnoxious. But recalling their adorable baby days can short-circuit your anger, and bring your best parenting skills to the surface.