Mark loves his boys, but sometimes his anger gets the best of him. When he and the boy’s mother decided to divorce, the stress only made Mark angrier. His anger was threatening visitation with the people he loved most in this world.
In the best interest of his children, Mark attended an Anger Management class at the Center for Family Services. Mark says, “During the course, I wasn’t immediately able to see if I had changed or learned anything.” But he had!
Mark shared his story of a recent ice fishing trip. He wanted the day to be something his boys would remember, a fantastic childhood memory, just like we all wish for our children. Once on the ice, he became worried. Mark knew the ice was thick enough and safe to walk on, he just wanted his young boys to stay near him “just in case”, as most parents would.
As Mark set up the fishing site and began drilling the hole, his boys still weren’t listening and wandering too far away from him. Mark felt himself becoming very anxious and angry.
At that moment, Mark remembered a story that our staff member, Nichole shared during his class. The story was about a father and son working on a car together. What began as a great experience ended with the father breaking the boy’s hand and ending up in jail. The little boy had scratched “I love you Dad” into the car and the father had lost control.
Mark stopped drilling the hole in the ice and said a silent “Thank You” to Nichole. Instead of creating memories of an angry dad, Mark changed his anger into “Daddy Safety”. He now knows that his fear and love for his children doesn’t have to be expressed as anger. The three of them enjoyed a day of bonding with fishing poles. “I would have never seen my son catch his first fish, instead I got to enjoy my boys’ giant smiles.”
Mark is so thankful for the help in controlling his anger and having the opportunity to make happy memories with his children. Thank you for being a part of the changes we make in the lives of families, like Mark’s, every day!
Tips for managing anger with your children.
- Choose your battles. It is easy to find fault with many situations. You feel like you are constantly repeating yourself. Try to remember that your child is a human being and they are allowed to make mistakes. We all make mistakes. While we aren’t condoning giving in to your child at every turn, focus your efforts on situations that involve the safety, health and the well being of your child.
- Realistic Expectations. Every person is different. Children are people. It can be easy to set up expectations for our children and to feel frustrated when they don’t act like we imagine they should. One of the most difficult things for many parents is to understand the mental, emotional and developmental needs of your child. Just because you were a motivated 16 year old who worked three jobs and bought your own car, doesn’t mean your 16 year old has developed enough to follow in your footsteps. One 9 year old may be a great helper with younger siblings, while another just isn’t ready. Spending time with your child and talking to her will really help you understand what you can expect.
- Clear Rules. Imagine you are driving down the road. Ahead of you are several traffic lights. The first light is green and you know that means “Go”. At the next green light everyone stops and you nearly get hit. Cars at the third light are ignoring both the red and green lights. You find yourself driving slowly and trying to anticipate what will happen next. Your child feels this way when you do not set up clear rules. If one day they are allowed to throw a ball in the house, but the next time they are grounded because they do the same thing, they will become angry and distrustful. Children need values, rules and consequences. If and Then. If you do this, Then this will occur. If you do not do this, Then this will occur. Make your bed, then you can watch television. Set the rules (make them fair) and stick to them.