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By Lizette Erasmus, an educational psychologist who has been running a private practice in Pretoria for the past 21 years, working with children and adults of all ages. She writes for Impaq Education, a curriculum provider for home, tutor and school education. 

Once there was a red balloon that lived in a house with a family. Every day the red balloon got bigger and bigger without anyone noticing. One day the balloon popped with a loud bang and everyone in the house got a nasty fright.

Anger is often like the red balloon in that it builds up slowly over time until it explodes over a seemingly small incident/event. If you handle your anger like the red balloon, your children might learn that aggression is the best way to deal with uncomfortable emotions. Eventually these emotions could cause school difficulties, anxiety and relationship problems.

Emotional control through conscious anger management, however, can help to create a feeling of security and peace within a family. For example, when you are angry, you do not have to express that anger by yelling or throwing things. Feeling angry is not wrong, but the way you express it might be wrong.

As parents we have the responsibility to teach our children how to deal with their anger and other emotions in effective and appropriate ways. The following tools can help you manage your anger more effectively:

Journal it
If you realise that there are often outbursts among family members, write down your emotions and thoughts. Keeping a journal will help you gain perspective.

Laugh
Humour can help you feel more in control over stressful circumstances.

Breathe
Take deep breaths. This will help to not only relieve some of the tension but will also give you a few moments to think more clearly.

Take time to focus
Focus all your attention on something in your environment or something on yourself, like the garden outside your window or the pattern on your dress or shirt. This technique can help you gain control over your emotions.

Nurture your marriage
Research has shown that there is a close link between a healthy marriage and successful parenting. It is therefore a good idea to invest in building a healthy relationship with your wife/husband. A good way to do this is by going away for a weekend or having planned date nights, to help you reconnect with your partner.

Gain insight through self-knowledge
Build your self-knowledge. Who am I? What is my personality like? Self-knowledge can help you gain insight into your own behaviour and emotions.

Live a healthy lifestyle
Be mindful of external factors that could contribute to your emotions. For example, are you eating healthy foods, exercising, getting enough sleep? Are you stressed and worried?

Don’t be afraid to say sorry
And finally, there will always be times when you don’t manage your anger well and you yell or say things you regret. This is normal. When this happens, it’s a good idea to take a moment to work out what to say to your children or your partner and don’t be afraid to say you are sorry. Here are some ideas that will also help you teach your children how to handle these situations.

  • I’m sorry for losing my temper. Next time I’ll take myself away to calm myself down.
  • I’m sorry I yelled. Can we talk about what just happened?
  • I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that, even though I was angry. I should have walked away and calmed down before we talked about it.

This article was supplied by Impaq Education, which provides all the products, services and tools you need to educate your child at home from Grade R to Grade 12.

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