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Anger Can Be Productive, Who Knew?

It may or may not surprise you to know that I’ve always struggled with my temper.  Yeah, me.  Really.  I’m telling you, I can throw a temper tantrum like nobody’s business.  I can put my 3-year-old’s temper tantrums to shame.

One of the emails I recently received from Biblical Parenting.org addressed “the good side of anger.”  This immediately caught my attention because I’ve got plenty of anger.  Especially at certain times of the month, ifyouknowwhatImean.

This is the basic premise of the article:

Anger is good for identifying problems but not good for solving them.

Hm.  Makes sense.  I remember years and years ago, a Sunday School teacher teaching us the Bible verse, “Do not sin in your anger.”  And her point was, anger in and of itself isn’t a sin.  But sinning as a result of anger is the problem.  Anger is a valid, God-given emotion; what we DO with it is the important part.

When I was a 3rd grade teacher, I struggled with my temper in the classroom.  One day I called a friend and fellow teacher for advice on how to keep my cool, and she said that the key is consequences.  She counseled me that losing my temper is never productive, but implementing logical consequences calmly and matter-of-factly is very effective.

I try to remember that now that I’m a parent, but some days I do better than others.  (It was easier when I was a teacher and I could send them all home at 3:00!)  Sometimes I walk through the house, steaming about something stupid that one of my kids just did, trying not to blow my top clean off, and chanting to myself, “Consequences, consequences, consequences…”  It’s not always easy to come up with an appropriate consequence.  I wish I was more creative in that way.

Realizing that anger can actually be helpful relieves some of the guilt, but only when I manage to use my anger constructively.

Share.  What are your best tips for keeping your cool when your temper threatens to get the best of you?  What are some of your more creative (and effective) consequences for inappropriate behavior?

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21 thoughts on “Anger Can Be Productive, Who Knew?

  1. My “angry outbursts” as my tween calls them stem from a lack of patience on my part. Some days you just get tired of repeating yourself (or maybe that’s just me LOL) I really try to remember that this is the only today and I won’t get it back. Being purposeful and thinking before I speak helps. And when I blow it, I apologize and move on.

    Thanks for the post- got me thinking, for sure 🙂

  2. I have been concentrating on picking my battles lately. The last few months have been pretty stressful around our house (the move to SC has finally happened), and I just realized that we’re all better off just going with the flow a little more. When I do lose my cool inappropriately, I’m quick to apologize for my behavior – but also still point out to my children that I’m still angry about whatever the issue was. A dear friend also taught me not to engage – when I’ve made a decision and a child is not a fan of said decision, the conversation is over, no matter how much begging goes on. Of course, there are times when some reasoning needs to happen, but sometimes ‘because I said so’ is enough – and my kids are old enough to know the difference.

    So glad to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this!

  3. I throw fits just like you! I think it is important not to feel guilty about getting upset. Embrace your inner 3-year old!

  4. Oh, I wish I had some good advice. I seem to do worse in the summer when everyone’s home. I know that the best times are when all the kids are home, but I often find myself unhappy because a) I can’t implement a good “routine” in the summer and everyone’s fighting and aimless in the day and b) there’s never a break and we all get on each other’s nerves after a while.

    I’ve been working hard lately to know ‘REACT’ but to ‘react’ instead. Thanks for this post!

  5. When I get really worked up (which is more frequent than it should be), I sit my kids on their beds and go into my room to blow off steam. I usually pace and stomp for a few minutes while I think of a logical consequence. With my son (turning 3 this week), the best consequence is to sit for 5 minutes in a timeout. For my daughter (almost 7), I try to get more creative. I often assign household tasks, such as cleaning baseboards, dusting the living room, or wiping down bathroom sinks and counters, in response to unacceptable behaviors. For example, if her table manners are very sloppy, she has to wipe down the table and counters after dinner.
    If she is mean to her brother, she has to do something kind for him, such as cleaning his room or reading him 2 books. Loss sf privileges is effective, too. No popsicles for the rest of the day, having to take her rest time without books, no afternoon movie or Wii time, etc. For lying, speaking sassy words, or yelling at her brother, we’ve found that having her take a teaspoon of white vinegar is extremely effective. When direct defiance is involved, she gets a good, old-fashioned spanking. I always wait until I am completely cooled down and in control, though. No matter when the infraction is, or the consequence I am handing out, I try to approach it from a spiritual perspective. What does God’s Word say about this? Is this behavior or attitude in line with what Christ desires for his child? “Don’t Make Me Count to Ten” by Ginger Plowman is a fantastic book for creative discipline with a spiritual perspective.
    I don’t have this down…not by a long shot! But I’m working through it all, same as you. I hope this gives you some fuel! =)

  6. I struggle here, too. What works best for me is giving myself a time-out. I walk away to compose myself before I say or do something I’ll regret later. It works most of the time (though my MIL once followed me after a confrontation and then… well, she escalated past the point of losing control, and chastised me for being a grown up. I digress.)

    We do consequences here, too. Most of the time I try to let my 5 year old choose the consequence. I try to guide her there, and she knows that it’s supposed to be something that has to do with the problem, i.e. She gets into an argument with a friend, so she’s not allowed to play with any friends the next day. Or she doesn’t finish her dinner, so she gets nothing else to eat until the next morning. Having her pick her own really makes her think twice the next time.

  7. The best thing for me and my temper has been my husband. Seriously. He is so thoughtful and calm and so hard to provoke. He has taught me how to chill out and let it go. I’m still a work in progress, but it’s better for sure.

  8. I think almost everyone who knows me would be surprised to find that I have a lot of anger. I’m very sweet and quiet and gentle most of the time and my husband is generally the only one who knows my temper- and I guess my mom. I worry about how it will come out around my daughter, but fortunately I’ve been able to keep it at bay so far. I try to just walk away from the situation if I start to get angry and that usually helps.

    Ironically- when we were younger, my brother was the one with the nasty temper, but he is starting to grow out of it. Whereas I think my temper has gotten worse over the years.

    I really like what you had to say though- I’ll definitely try to keep that bible verse in mind in the future. 😀 Thanks!

  9. I have to say its kind of refreshing to hear you blow your top some times! 😉 You always seem so “together” to me!

    I’m seriously lacking in patience myself and it comes out far too often in the form of anger with my six year old. Can’t say I have any particularly good ways at dealing with it short of locking myself in the bathroom for a few minutes. I’m definitely a fan of mommy time outs. Well, that and wine and therapy.

  10. Thanks for being open about this. It sure is tough, and as a former teacher I say all the time “sometimes 25 fourth graders was easier!”

    I just finished reading Have a New Kid By Friday by Kevin Leman and I had a revelation: discipline is soooo much more about my behavior than my kids. I need to grow up and be the adult in order to parent well.

    What that looks like when I’m really mad or during that time of the month . . . I’m not sure. I’ll let you know when I have grandkids 😉

    A few ideas though:
    for slamming doors — open and close x number of times nicely OR we even took it off the hinges once and left my 2 year old with no door

    screaming and carrying on — in another room with closed door or even outside on the deck

    hitting — make the kids hug for x number of minutes to show what hands are truly for

    The best thing I can say is that you have to stick by what you say (even if you’re not sure it’s ‘right’).

    good luck & please share any other ideas!

  11. Great post! I struggle with this one too. My biggest frustration comes from a problem with communication. My toddler is, well, a toddler. Not even 18 months old. Here lies our problem. She can’t quite communicate what she needs/wants. Our biggest battles are becoming meal time. She signs that she wants to eat and that she wants more, yet she just throws her food on the floor. All of it. And wants SOMETHING. UGH! I try to remind myself that this too shall pass and one day she’ll be able to tell us what’s on her mind. But I’ll tell you, I am SO tired of repeating myself and yelling! We do short time outs, usually two minutes, for other, more serious infractions like throwing things, biting, and hitting. That seems to be effective so far.

  12. I lock myself in the bedroom, it works well. No one can talk to me and I get the time I need to calm down. Otherwise, I banish the children somewhere, whether it is outside or to their rooms. It gives me time to calm down and really look at what made me mad.

    I can have a bit of a temper at times too. It is not always easy to get past it, but somedays just seem worse than others.

  13. I’ve struggled with losing it when my kids really frustrate me. What I did a few years ago was to tell them that I didn’t like how I act sometimes, and I didn’t want to yell at them. I asked for their help, and gave them “permission” to call me out when I lose my cool. If I start yelling, they calmly look at me and say “Mommy, you don’t want to yell at us.” That really shakes you back into reality. It’s worked well.

  14. I used to have much better control of my temper as a mother of 1 than a mother of 3. I try my best to be patient and not overreact or yell.

  15. By far what has worked best for me is: Sending the kids to sit on their beds and wait for their consequence. This gives me time to cool down and also to decide what the best consequence will be. Sometimes they sit up there for 5 minutes before I am ready (either cooling down, or finishing nursing(often naughty times!)). I think the worst part for them is the trek up to their bed thinking about what is going to happen.

  16. Oh, geez, have I struggled with this this week.
    I read that talking in a quiet voice helps (when you want to blow up at your kids).
    Sadly, I have almost no tips, beyond constantly reminding myself i will be accountable for every careless word!!

  17. Oh Kristine, I so do not have it together. OMG. Wine works for me. Maybe I need to try therapy. I’ve considered it.

    Melissa, the quiet voice definitely works. WHEN I use it. Sigh…

  18. Like everyone else, I struggle with angry outbursts, too (and then the subsequent guilt, which oftentimes feels even worse). The summer is difficult because it’s 24-7 and all the kids are together (practically)all the time.

    Last week, was difficult. There were quite a few days when I lost it. This week, I reprioritized and took the best offensive approach to anger and impatience that I know of. I went back to having a regular quiet time with God each morning before anyone else is up.

    I’ve spent a lot of time in the Psalms this week and it’s so comforting to read them and know that God is there in the midst of the chaos with me. When I pray first thing each morning, there is a noticable difference in my behavior and my reactions throughout the day. Sometimes, I’m amazed at the patience that I’m able to display. It’s definitely not me. It’s totally a God thing.

    Now, if I can only maintain this quiet time on a regular basis, I’d be all set. 🙂 Somehow, it’s easy to get pulled away from it. But really, it is the best investment in my day. My day is always better (not perfect) when I take time to commit it to God first.

  19. Obviously, we want to control our tongues. But, anger is human and real and sometimes our kids need to know that they’ve pushed one too many buttons. I know a family that grew up with NO, literally NO anger or loud words. They have “problems” dealing with real life anger both in the home and in their workplace.

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