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Short-Circuiting Your Anger
To keep your cool going forward, follow these ground rules:
- Ask the right question When a child is being difficult and your temper is about to flare, follow this advice from McKay: Instead of thinking, Why is he doing this to me?, focus on the child; he's probably acting out for a reason. Is he hungry, bored, tired, or in need of attention? Try to meet his need instead of letting your anger get the best of you.
- Keep an anger journal that documents when you lose your cool. "Look for patterns - what time of day do you get angriest? Under what circumstances?" advises Deffenbacher. "Once you identify those anger 'flash points' in your life, brainstorm ways to minimize them." You can even get your kids in on the act: Say, "It irritates me when you ignore your chores - how can we make this a better situation?" By giving your kids a voice, you're empowering them to be part of the solution.
- Minimize marriage spats "In a calm moment, you and your spouse should agree to handle your next argument differently," Deffenbacher says. "Give yourselves permission to walk away if you're getting too angry in front of the kids. Develop a code word for when you are getting really mad, and let that signal that you'll discuss the issue later, in private, when you're calmer."
- Talk through your emotions out loud when you're with your kids and a stranger annoys you. "Say, 'Wow, that person just cut me off - how rude! But maybe there's an emergency she had to deal with, or she just didn't see me. Whatever the case, I'm not going to let it ruin my day,' " recommends Deffenbacher. By doing this, you're modeling how to handle life's everyday frustrations - and how to control your anger before it controls you.
-By Julie Taylor