Guest Author - Paula Petrie
It is true by times that children take the brunt of stressed parent’s anger. Displaced anger can be generated by frustration and exhaustion. It is a product of not dealing effectively with stress, present or past, and it mostly has little or nothing to do with the person who bears the brunt of the blow.
One problem with displaced anger is that this can create a vicious cycle of poor family communication and connections. Keep in mind that kids will emulate what they live with. They will, even in spite of themselves, react to stress and other people, by the example they have been shown. Kids who are yelled at will eventually yell at the parent. Poor communication skills will become the family legacy.
High stress levels in large numbers of children is a phenomenon that wasn’t witnessed as little as five years ago. Family and school pressures combined with the rigors of after-school activities are beginning to exact a toll. We don’t all, kids included, handle situations in the same way. Families need to develop a stress management plan for the entire family unit.
Managing stress may be as simple as adjusting your schedule or as complicated as looking for outside help; and involves considering issues such as:
-What time of day are you most apt to lose your cool?
-What can you do to ease the stress on yourself at that time of day?
-How could you rearrange your schedule to help ease your family through the ruff spots?
-What could be done to ease the stress of morning or after-school routines for your children and for yourself?
-Is an unresolved issue dragging you down, what sort of plan could be put in motion to ease the tension or burden?
To effectively manage stress your family must eat well and get plenty of (or at least some) fresh air, exercise, and rest, several times a week.
Kids may not have the ability to handle someone else’s mismanaged anger but you can give them tools. Exercising or even doing chores with your kids can be taken lightly and made fun. Family time helps release stress and renew closeness, and levity.
Let kids know that they can talk to you. Have your child ask you, "to please not yell when you are stressed," because it causes him or her to get angry, too. Or give kids permission to say something light like, “a scrunched face is not a good look for you.” These tools will give your children back a sense control in their own lives.
The way to earn respect is to be respectful to others and insisting on it for you. If kids have been treating you as a servant and cash cow, mutual respect is missing from the relationship. Older kids can help stressed parents with laundry and getting dinner ready, younger kids should learn to pick up after themselves or to respect quiet time. Families are in “life” together.