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Short-circuiting your anger

If you’ve found yourself shrieking at your child and regretting it, follow these ground rules to keep your cool going forward:

Ask the right question

When a child is being difficult, follow this advice from psychologist Dr Matthew McKay, a professor at The Wright Institute in the US: instead of thinking Why is he doing this to me? focus on the child’s needs instead of letting your anger get the best of you.

Keep an anger journal that documents when you lose your cool

“Identify anger ‘flash points’ in your life,” advises Dr Jerry Deffenbacher, a professor of psychology at Colorado State University in the US. Say to your kids, “it irritates me when you ignore your chores – how can we make this a better situation?”

Minimise marriage spats

“In your next argument you and your spouse should give yourselves permission to walk away if you’re getting too angry in front of the kids. Discuss the issue later, in private, when you’re calmer,” says Deffenbacher.

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. So, I’m not going to let it ruin my day.'” By doing this, you’re modelling how to handle life’s everyday frustrations and control your anger before it controls you.

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