Every so often I find myself repeating these words. While it’s not indicative of the entirety of my fathering, it certainly is the nature of Daddy Jekyll.
He and I know each other well. And, not unlike the movie portrayal’s, he never appears without warning. In fact, I usually have an active role in ushering in his arrival.
The only difference being the delivery method of my transformation. Instead of drinking a chemical stew, my change-agent takes the form of good old fashioned stress.
It could be preempted by selfishness, exhaustion, discouragement…you name it. All of them are terrific ways to bring out my inner schmuck.
Unfortunately, being a man that places allot of emphasis on being cool and collected, I haven’t always been willing to admit said schmuckiness…let alone be willing to actually do something to change my behavior.
Are you there right now…or have you been there recently?
If you answered no, then I have no choice but to bring the heat with an old saying that cuts right to the bone, “LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE!”
Seriously, if you have kids, you know the feeling!
Just pay attention the next time you decide to brave Chuck E Cheese with the family.
Notice the lion-like stares from the other fathers in the restaurant. The ones that look eerily like those on National Geographic…right before the big male lion rushes the unsuspecting gazelle.
The trick however, is to ward off your anger before it get’s to this point.
Managing the Inner Lion
So, how about some practical advice for managing your anger?
Admittedly, there are a lot of tips and tricks out there. In fact, I wrote about one in my last post.
Beyond that, I found some great advice from Parenting Guide News, written by Roberta Roth, CSW, who encourages parents to adapt her “thermometer theory” of anger management.
Of particular use to me are her suggestions that deal with gauging your anger on a sliding scale. One being comatose and ten being completely out of control.
In applying this theory, she suggests the following:
- Perform periodic spot checks of your anger level throughout the day. This will help significantly in keeping a pulse on your behavior…and when you’re getting out of control.
- In order to avoid outbursts, try to keep your anger under a seven by using management techniques like deep breathing or exercise. You will likely have to figure out what works best for you but it is well worth the effort.
- When your anger begins to rise, remove yourself from the situation. It’s often as simple as just walking away and collecting yourself.
- At times, it may also work to take your child with you into your “time out.” Being able to talk with them in a quiet setting can do allot of good for both of you.
- Consider doing some journaling. With consistency, it can become a behavior log of sorts…allowing you to track tendencies and circumstances that invoke anger.
What’s a Practical Outcome?
Doing these things certainly won’t make you a perfect parent. Nor will they guarantee a fail-safe way to avoid becoming angry.
However, you will have given yourself a few actionable tools to help you cope with the struggles of fatherhood.
More importantly, you will be teaching your kids how they need to behave when they are frustrated and angry. Chances are they are going to learn behavioral responses from you anyway…whether bad or good.
So how about your suggestions? What tricks and techniques have you used to help you cope with your anger?
If you’re anything like me, you need all the help you can get!