First of all, I would like to clarify something here. It is ok to be angry. When something elicits an emotional repsonse from you, and that emotion happens to be anger, that is normal. Anger does exist in the normal spectrum of human emotions, and it is healthy to express anger, so long as you express it in a healthy manner.
And that brings us to losing your temper. Losing your temper is that dividing line between anger and rage, that point where your vision takes on a red haze and rational thoughts seem to just not happen anymore. Losing your temper usually directly precedes the moment when you do something you will regret later.
So let’s look at some preventative maintenance here, and explore some ways to not lose your temper in the first place. You will feel better about yourself for maintaining control over your emotions, your children will respect you more for the same reason, and you will spend less time thinking back over how you should have done things.
1. Take a breath and count to 10: This advice is probably something you have heard a million times, and the reason for that is, it works. Just by forcing yourself you take a deep breath and then count slowly to 10 will take you out of the craziness for a moment and let you gather your focus. If you catch yoursself rushing through the 10 count just so you can throttle the kid sooner, start the whole process over.
2. Tailor your reaction to the situation: in other words, don’t overreact. Keep in mind that early in the morning on a bright, beautiful day, you might let some small infractions, and some not so small, just slide. Fast forward to 4:30 in the afternoon when the sky has turned cloudy and your mood has turned stormy, and a much smaller infraction than the ones you overlooked before suddenly send you flying off the handle. Try to deal with each situation based on its own merit, rather than allowing things to build to the point where it all bleeds together.
3. Rely on Your Teammate Occasionally: There will be times when you just go over the edge. Believe me, kids can push you there, especially when you have more than one and they seem to be conspiring to give you a stroke. At those times, pass the kid(s) off to your wife and get the hell out of Dodge. Go for a walk, go to the gym, moon your annoying neighbor, anything just to get out of the environment that is suddenly controlled by your heathenous offspring. Clearing your head will give you a new perspective and get you back in the leadership position, which is where you belong. Just remember, you passed the kid(s) off onto your spouse, and you owe her one the next time she is on the verge of losing it. Just remind her the annoying neighbor might enjoy it too much if she moons him.
4. Know What Sets You Off, and Avoid Those Things: I hate repetitive noises. I mean I HATE repeptitive noises. One of my favorite singers produced a solo album that featured some phrases repeated over and over. Even though in my opinion this guy has the best voice in music, I cannot listen to his solo album because it repeats too much. Since I know that repetitive sounds are a trigger of mine, my kids do not get musical toys. At least not from me. If relatives or friends give my kids noisy toys, that relative or friend’s name is immediately stricken from my Christmas card list, the batteries from said toy are immediately removed and hidden, and if the giver of the offending gift happens to be in my home at the time, they should probably be on the lookout for a booger in their food. Know your triggers, and avoid them.
5. Get Help If You Need It: We all carry some emotional baggage from growing up. Come on, admit it, you made the mistake of thinking your parents were fighting at least once and caught them making whoopie instead. That is normal. If you had a more traumatic childhood and the baggage is more significant, I mean to the point where it really weighs on you and limits your ability to function in a healthy manner, seek professional help. Just keep in mind that the benefits you will receive from that help are directly proportionate to what you put into the therapy.
Like all my posts here, I am going ot say that this list is not all-encompassing. I think the most important thing that I know is the fact that I do not know it all. This is just a place to start, and, hopefully, something for other dads to build on. Good luck and keep plugging along, since you really don’t have much choice at this point anyway.