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Dealing with anger towards your toddler

Are you often losing your temper and shouting at your toddler? Here's what you need to know and do.

Dr Richard C. Woolfson
magyoungparents@sph.com.sg

1. ACCEPT THAT YELLING DOESN’T WORK
Shouting at your little one might give you momentary satisfaction, but it doesn’t have a long-term effect. It’s far better to talk in a quiet, but assertive voice that tells her you mean business, than to lose control and simply yell at her.

2. MONITOR YOUR DECIBEL LEVEL
Nobody likes to think that they frequently raise their voice at their young child, but it’s easy to fall into this trap. Think about the number of times you did so today. Maybe you could have ignored some of those instances, or spoken to her calmly.

3. PLAN SHORT BREAKS
Try to organise your day so that you’re able to put your feet up for 10 minutes. This could be when your active tot finally plays with her toys quietly, or when she watches her favourite TV show. Tell yourself that you need a short break, and that you thoroughly deserve it.

4. USE VARIOUS STRATEGIES
When you sense your stress level and temper rising because she’s always misbehaving, don’t wait for the explosion point. Instead, try to change the situation, perhaps by distracting her with another activity, taking her to the park or watching a children’s DVD together.

5. EMPHASISE GOOD CONDUCT
When she actually does what you ask of her, make a big fuss. Let your baby know how pleased you are with her. This helps you realise there are good moments, too, and that you shouldn’t be angry all the time.

6. MORE REWARD, LESS PUNISHMENT
Count the number of times you reward her in a day (such as giving praise, a cuddle or a special treat) and compare it with how often you punish him (such as screaming at her, removing 
her toys or sending her to her room). If you punish more often than reward her, it’s time to reverse the balance.

7. RECOGNISE YOUR PROGRESS
One of the reasons you scream at 
her so much is because you feel you’ve lost control, and this frustrates you. But chances are that you are a much more effective mum than you think. So, rather than focusing on the negatives, remind yourself about the parenting challenges you got right.

8. BE PROUD OF HER ACHIEVEMENTS
She may be annoyingly uncooperative at times, yet she’s also a fabulous toddler who does new things every day. Whenever you feel the rage building up inside you because she is so demanding, force yourself to recall those wonderful moments of progress. That will help cool you down.

9. CUDDLE HER EVERY DAY
No matter how strained your relationship with her is at times, make sure you give her lots of hugs and kisses. Loving, physical contact helps melt away the negatives and puts you both in a positive, caring frame of mind. A good cuddle cheers you both up, even if you’ve been angry with her up to that point.

10. ASK FOR HELP
Chances are that your spouse, friends and relatives would be more than willing to look after your toddler for a while so that you can have time to yourself. A short break on your own for only, say, an hour will enable you to manage your anger more effectively afterwards. You’ll be less likely to lose your temper with her.

(Photo: 123RF.com)

 

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