Often a key thing that could improve our parenting is better anger management.
A good way to conceptualize anger management is an image of driving a very fast car on a freeway. Let’s imagine that the signs above the highway say:
“Love and Limits—Next Exit”
“Meaningless Consequences—2 miles”
“Uncontrollable Rage—Three Miles”
Now if we are driving the speed limit (and not talking on the cell phone), we can get off at the first exit, as obviously we don’t really want to go any further down the anger highway if we can help it. But if we drive at warp-speed, then we don’t have time to read the signs, and before we know it we’ve gone to “Can o‘whoop-ass town,” and nothing good ever happens there.
If we learn our own signs, and this is essential to anger management, we can recognize them as clearly as highway signs. For example, tightening neck means “Rage—Three Miles.” So we get off the road, pull over if we have to, and slow down by all means.
The good thing about anger management is that it is self-reinforcing. When we manage to keep our Zen, we feel better, our kids are happier, and the harmony and peace that we want around us comes about in our environment.
Also, we must learn not to just stuff our rage (it leads to heart disease, and it tends to volcanically erupt eventually). We need to find safe and healthy ways to release anger, such as sport. Words will only carry us so far. We need to sweat the toxins out. But just as there is gold in the poop, anger can be power. It’s about channeling our passion and using it wisely.
So, if we’re pissed off at unfairness, indifference, greed, cruely, etc. let’s not shush that righteous indignation, but let’s not take it out on the kids either.
A good way to increase self-esteem is to think about the person we want to be (i.e. confident, playful, prosperous, effective, etc.). Then, whenever a challenging situation arises, don’t just put pedal to the metal on your road to rage; instead, slow down, imagine what your best Self would do if you already had all the money, love, power and good fortune you could want (coming from the “I just won life’s lotto and life’s too short to bother with the guy who cut me off in traffic” place). What would that man or woman do?
It’s great if you can even mentally conjure up what that person might do when you feel triggered. Better still, if you can manage to act as if you already are fully empowered, and in possession of yourself, your improved behavior will help you realize that you actually are becoming your best Self. In this way you liberate your best Self and discover that you really are a good parent. Right action will lead to right thinking, and to both a happier life and to happier kids.