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Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience:  Collaborative parent consultation on everything from modifying behavior to child development.
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I am a single mother, of two children (whos fathers have never

Customer Question

I am a single mother, of two children (who's fathers have never met them) I was a professional nanny for years and used to be proud of my parenting. My daughter has a mild ASD and my son is 3, since his birth I have become increasingly stressed and am so ashamed to admit to raging at him when he misbehaves. He is very active, smart, and curious and therefore frequently gets into trouble. (in the last two days he has painted the toilet with nail polish, peeled 7 bananas and dumped two full bottles of cumin and nutmeg all over the kitchen floor and also unwrapped two paintbrushes that I was saving to finish the project, and painted on a newly painted wall). These things arent that big a deal....and are even funny later, but my immediate reaction to them is deplorable. I scream and yell and scare them, I become so angry I am out of control. I need to control my immediate reaction, as well as a long term solution. please help, I consider my this abusive and am afraid to ask for help.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Jennifer replied 7 years ago.
Hello and thanks for using!

I'm sorry to hear you're feeling remorseful about the way you handle your anger, but I applaud you for coming here and looking for ways to stop that cycle and recognizing that it's unhealthy for both you and your children.

There are a few things I'd suggest... First of all, the moment you begin to feel the rage setting in, I want you to picture a STOP sign in your head. That's your cue to take a time out -- Go to another room or outside just long enough to count to 10 and take some deep breaths. If you need to plug your ears while you do this to block out the noise, feel free. Count slowly and take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Believe it or not doing some quick relaxation techniques will depress the physiological response you have when you're angry and will help you to calm down. Use some self-talk to guide your thoughts -- Pick a phrase that helps you to feel calm and repeat it to yourself. Some people like words that describe what they're aiming to feel (e.g., "Peaceful... Calm... Relaxing...") while others choose to say things to remind them why this is important (e.g., "I'm a good mom and I love my kids.") See what works best for you. Sometimes it can be helpful to choose a quiet, gentle, slow song that has a calming effect for you -- Think of a song that is literally difficult to sing and be angry at the same time.

You could also try some progressive muscle tension / relaxation. When you're in your "time out," create tension in your muscles by raising your shoulders, flexing your bi-ceps, and holding your hands in tight fists. Hold that for just a moment (5 seconds) then release. Pay close attention to how your muscles feel when you release that tension and try to relax your muscles to a degree even further. Next move to your abdomen and then your leg muscles and do the same tense / relax process paying special attention to the loose feeling you get when you let go of that tension. Get familiar with this exercise when you're NOT angry so that it comes naturally when you need to use this technique.

Let your kids see you doing these anger management techniques -- By modeling them, they'll learn how to control their own angry feelings. It's very normal to get angry about things. What's important is how we express that anger and what we do to try to control our behaviors when we're feeling that way.

See if you can schedule some break time for yourself. Parenting young children (particularly those with special needs and / or an abundance of curious energy) can be exhausting and very stressful! It's important to make time for yourself to rest, do activities you enjoy, and feel balanced in your life. You'll return feeling renewed and ready to take on more as a parent. You may need to ask a friend / family member / neighbor if they could support you by watching the kids for an hour or two each week to allow you the time you need to do this.

Lastly, if the medication you are on isn't working it may be time to discuss that with your physician. He / she may want to alter the dosage or suggest an alternative medication worth trying to alleviate your symptoms.

I wish you the best of luck!!
Jennifer and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX needed something more than the oversimplified "count to ten" that many suggest. When one is shaking with what I can only describe as "a burst of angry ragey energy" it has to be let out, expressed, anything other than unleashing it on my children. I will try these techniques and I am so hopeful. M y shame and self dislike because of this is a pretty big weight to carry around. Its also true that I need to recharge my batteries and I will make some me time a priority. Thank you!
Expert:  Jennifer replied 7 years ago.
You're very welcome. Come back if these aren't useful for you and we'll see what else might be helpful. I suggested several because while some people swear by counting, others find progressive muscle relaxation to be much more effective, and still others would tell you self-talk is the way to go. You have to try them all to see what works for you! Best of luck. The fact that you came here for help is a great first step!