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Losing My Temper: What to do

Almost all parents lose their tempers occasionally with children, and even infants. It's understandable - but it's not helpful. If you lose control, it really scares your child, and it probably leaves you feeling guilty and ashamed.

Here are some ways to try and avoid losing your temper:

  • The most important thing you need to do is make sure you're putting your baby or child's safety first. Many parents find that taking a personal time-out is very effective in helping to calm down. You can count to ten, read a magazine, do some push-ups, go for a walk or do some deep breathing - anything that will help you relax and get control of yourself again. If you are really angry, leave your baby or child with a trusted friend. Don't throw an object against a wall or hit something else because this scares everyone, and it only keeps anger and violence up front, when what you should be doing is calming down.

  • For a longer term solution, you have to find out where your anger or frustration is coming from, and find healthier ways to express it. Take some time to think about why you get so angry. Ask yourself what triggers your outbursts. Try and figure out if you're really angry about something else, so that your explosion is out of proportion to what set it off. You may find that your anger is coming from somewhere completely different than your child. Or that other stresses in your life are mounting up, that you don't have a safety valve for dealing with issues as they come, so that pressure keeps building up and your child is the "last straw" that pushes you to the point where you can't cope.

Besides thinking about your responses, consider using the following resources:

  • Talk to your partner, your friends - someone whom you feel will give you honest answers about behaviour.

  • Consult your physician because there may be a physical reason for your anger.

  • Phone or go to a parenting centre and talk to other parents. See how they deal with the things children do as they develop and try to be independent.

  • Talk to a family counsellor.

  • Read books on parenting. If you understand more about how babies and children develop, and why they act the way they do, their behaviour may not anger you - because you'll understand what it's like from their side.

If you find you can't control your outbursts, or if you think there's a chance you might harm your child, physically or emotionally, consult your physician, or contact your local child protection agency immediately. If you are in Canada, and you wish to speak to a counsellor about this, contact Parent Help Line, 1-888-603-9100.

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