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Anger is one of the most powerful expressions, we human beings possess. It can mentally drain us, affects our physical health, makes us do some nasty things and makes us vulnerable and emotionally unstable. And when anger starts to impact our parenting abilities, its time to think and act upon.
I, myself, is one of those whose parenting abilities were over shadowed by the constant anger. Around 3-4 months back, I had found myself becoming constantly angry or irritated on every small thing. I have never been so short tempered before. To add to this, were the ever increasing mischief of my super naughty and super active toddler. I found myself yelling at him many times. I used to feel that he is always trying my patience. A couple of times, I got so infuriated that I slapped him. Yes, I did that. And I felt so miserable and terrible after that, that I felt like slapping myself. When my anger subsided, I cursed myself that how can I be so cruel to hit a two year old. At times, I felt I'm becoming a bad parent who does not know how to handle her toddler and his unending mischief. This further added to my frustration. In this mess, I did not realise that what impact is it having on my kid.
My toddler although very naughty, is friendly and adaptive. He mixes up very easily, shows his love and affection clearly. He hugs everyone (whether elders or kids or babies) so warmly, shares his things happily and cannot see anyone crying. He throws tantrums rarely. He eats, sleeps and wakes up in time. But since last two months, I have seen huge changes in his behaviour. He has started showing agression. He started hitting almost everyone when he gets angry. A couple of weeks back, we were on a visit to his grandparents' place. His grandpa was teasing him and he was getting annoyed. Still his grandpa did not stop and when he lost his patience, he hit him. My hubby got really angry and being utterly embarassed, he shouted at him. I was watching this from a distance thinking what exactly is going wrong with my child. After a lot of introspection, I figured out that he had learnt all this from me or should I say from both parents only. Since its me who stays 24*7 with him, so I feel, I'm majorly responsible for this.
That is when, I realised that how my anger is negatively affecting his parenting and development. I had forgotten that a child constantly observes his parents and learn things which he sees them doing. He seemed to have inferred from my behaviour that anyone who annoys you or makes you angry, you need to yell at or hit that person. I promised myself that I will work on my anger and will not let it hinder my child's mental and behaviourial development. I reminded myself once again that parents are the first teachers of a child. They observe our behaviour closely and imitate our actions often. We need to present good examples in front of them. The first step in rectifying my mistake was to figure out what are the reasons which lead to my frequent angry outbursts and then work on them. The next was to control my temper and curb the tendency to yell. I promised myself that I will never hit him ever again no matter how frustrated or angry I get. I also made sure that I listen to my child with my full attention and encourage him to express his emotions clearly that when and why he is feeling annoyed or angry. I take him in my lap and talk to him whenever he shows aggression. I often tell him that its okay to express your anger sometimes but its not okay to be aggressive and hit others. And it helps. Sometimes, all your child needs is your attention and when not given, he can get angry. Also, I do not let anyone to tease him unnecessarily.
There are few things which I have learnt during this phase and helped me control my anger and frustration. Hope it helps others too, if they are facing such a situation. Here they are:
1. Get a proper sleep. This is very important. When we are exhausted and sleep deprived, we get irritated easily. So try to take naps whenever possible. Ask your close ones to babysit for your baby/child so that you can rest for a couple of hours.
2. Do things which make you happy like reading, listening to music, painting, shopping or anything that you like. I know there is always a time constraint for new moms and there are tons of other things that are waiting for us but we need to take care of ourselves too. If we do not feel happy, we cannot do our duties well and make others happy.
3. Eat well. Many times we get so busy that we forget to eat meals on time and keep doing other things empty stomach which also affects our mood. Remember a well nourished body and a full tummy is neccessary to keep you active, energetic and happy. Stay hydrated as well.
4. Do not your ignore your health. When you do not feel well, you get peckish automatically. When you feel good, your efficiency increases likewise. Take supplements if you feel tired and low in energy all the time. Take sufficient calcium and Vitamin D for your bone health. Constant body aches and joint pains lead to crankiness, discomfort and then anger. Sometimes hormonal fluctuations which are common after delivery also lead to mood swings and bad temperament. So, go see a doctor and get yourself tested if you face any hormonal issues.
5. Take walks or work out for sometime. Morning and evening walks are always refreshing and relaxing. It soothes your mood. Take your child along and enjoy walking in or around some calm place which is close to nature. If you can work out for 15-20 minutes daily, that is really beneficial. It not only helps you to shed extra calories but it also releases happy hormones to elevate your mood.
6. Take a day out. Once in a while you should take a few hours or a day off from your motherly duties and go out alone or with your friends or siblings. Leave your baby with your husband if you live alone with your husband or with inlaws if they stay with you or may be with your parents if they stay close. No, by doing that you are not doing any sin and it does not make you a bad mother either. You deserve a break too. You have a responsibility towards your well being. Remember the mantra, Happy mother, happy child.
7. Don't be a cleanliness and discipline freak. Many of us including me are cleanliness obsessed and whenever our houses get messy, we get mad. Remember that its okay if your house is messy because its not possible to keep your house organised and neat all the time when you have a superactive toddler at home. Also, do not expect your kids to be well behaved and mannered all the time. No doubt, some discipline is good but going overboard is definitely not appropriate. Sometimes we impose strict discipline on them and when they donot behave according to our directions, we feel angry and annoyed. Many times we expect them to be perfect in front of our friends and relatives and when they don't, it becomes a matter of embarassment for us. We should learn to handle them tactfully rather than getting angry or scolding them. We need to remember that they are still kids. They are still learning.
All these things helped and still helping me a lot in getting my anger under control. It requires self-introspection, lots of patience, lots of efforts, a change in attitude and a change in perspective. I'm not saying that I never get angry now but things are getting far better now. I'm improving. I'm learning. And I'm seeing some positive changes in my child too. I'm happy that I acted before it got too late. If any of you has experienced or experiencing any such situation, feel free to share your experiences and views in the comments section.
P.S. Parenting is an endless journey of learning and evolving. There is always a scope of improvement. Keep learning. Keep evolving. And most importantly do not let your anger ruin the happy and memorable moments of your and your child's life. Happy parenting to you all.