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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are some anger management tools to help me better react to 3yr old?

    Can someone please give me some strategies to help me stop reacting negatively toward my 3 yr old son when he is being defiant or is having a tough time dealing with his big feelings. I find it really difficult to manage my reaction & know that I want to be a calm & positive parent without yelling or hitting. I don't hit but I sometimes yell and feel absolutely devastated afterwards. My mum was a hitter & a yeller and I refuse to be like her but I feel like I need help with managing my own feelings before I can help my son and 18 month old daughter with theirs.
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  • 2

    Thanks

    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    How fantastic that you are asking this question and thinking about the issue in this way - that is already half the problem solved. 'In the moment' strategies may include building in a pause (catching yourself before you yell or hit) and taking a few calming breaths; or breaking eye contact briefly with your son and taking a few steps away before deciding how best to respond. Both these strategies are about moving out of a 'fight or flight' response so that you are able to use your best thinking rather than your emotional brain to parent well. The next step might be to help your son understand how he is feeling and why - this is best done by validating and naming his feelings for him, for example "You're angry that I won't let you do that". This will help your son to begin managing his big feelings. You may also benefit from some counselling to help you work through some of the difficult experiences you have had with your own Mum - if you are managing unprocessed feelings from the past this can add a level of intensity to how you respond in the present that can be hard to manage.

  • Paula VG

    HealthShare Member

    Hello Vivienne, thankyou so much for your response. You don't know how much I appreciate it!!!!

    I'm going to use these techniques the next time a situation arises. 

    Your right about the counseling. I have been attending sessions for a while about my mum now. She hasn't been apart of our lives for a year now.

    Thanks again for taking the time for your reply.

    Kindest regards,

    PVG

  • 1

    Thanks

    I am a Melbourne Relationship Counsellor and Family Lawyer who is skilful in helping people get out of the pain of relationship distress and create … View Profile

    Hello

    Firstly I agree with the great suggestions by Vivienne.

    Another thing might be to take up practicing mindfulness.

    It's an excellent way to help you shift your own response away from being reactive to simply having a choice about how you choose to respond in the moment. it halps to practice in the non stressful times so that you can develop your mindfulness muscle and be able to use it more and more in the stressful times.

    There are courses and apps available to assist.

    So as a starting point you could acknowledge yourrself with compassion for the beautiful aspiration you have to be calm with your son, then you could just feel your feet firmly on the ground and feel the support of the earth to help you access more presence in your body. Then breathe and take a couple of mindful breaths to feel into a place of presence and calm.

    If you are not used to doing this it may take some practice. However, this will develop like anything you practice and you can get better at it! Then when your brain is triggered and ready to fire from a reactive place you will after a time notice that it becomes more automatic, to just pause, breathe and notice and then respond from this place of awareness.

    All the best.

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