Two words: Duct. Tape.
Seriously, though? Don’t actually use duct tape on your kids. It may seem like a good idea in theory, and it sure is fun to joke about, but it can actually be quite harmful. Especially if you get it caught on hair. (Try it on your arm if you don’t believe me.)
So what can you do?
Being a Dad When You Want to Blow Your Top
If the situation involves a danger of some kind, obviously handle that and get everyone safe first. But then proceed with the following steps.
- Stay calm.
Step back, take a deep breath, and focus on maintaining your own composure. Yelling at your kid and handing out elaborate punishments is not going to help anyone. Don’t let yourself dwell on the five million annoying things about your wayward spawn. Instead, remind yourself of how much you love him or her. Children are, after all, a gift from God.
- Identify the problem.
You can do this by asking yourself two simple questions:
Is your anger justified? Sometimes kids do bad things because they want to. But sometimes they’re just acting like normal kids. Is the thing that has you upset really an unacceptable behavior, or are you annoyed for some personal reason? This is especially valuable information to have before doling out any reprimands.
- Why is my kid acting this way?
If your child is young, he or she may not know that what they are doing is wrong. Consider this a teaching moment. If, however, the child is doing something they know is not okay, now is the time to consider the motive. Is he seeking attention? Is she anxious about circumstances at school? Is he hungry or tired? Is she picking up on mom or dad’s stress? Is there some other underlying emotional or physical need that you might not be aware of? Knowing the reason behind a behavior can really help with knowing how to handle it.
- Decide if now is the right time to act.
If you and your child are both calm, take a few minutes and talk it out. Pray together, offer forgiveness, and be sure remind them that you’ll love them no matter what. But if either of you is still upset, the situation will only become more heated if you try to address the behavior now. Sometimes what is best for everyone is a little bit of time apart to calm down. Once you’re both ready, you can talk about what happened and assign any necessary disciplinary actions. Do keep in mind, though, that very small children or those with an attention deficit might not remember what they did after 15-20 minutes, so don’t get mad if they forget after a longer period of time.
- Say you’re sorry.
Let’s face it: you’re human. You will, at some point in your parenting career, lose your temper. You might get too loud. You might say something unkind that you’ll later regret. What better opportunity to model humility to your mini me? When these things happen, it is always the right time to apologize, admit what you did wrong, and give your child a chance to practice forgiveness.