Why We Lose Control and How to Prevent It

Many parents face daily challenges with anger from their children, their partner’s anger and their own anger. Read more for ways to cope in a healthy way.

“Do not teach your children never to be angry; teach them how to be angry.” ~Lyman Abbott

The Stress Response System: When we become triggered, something in the present reminds us at an unconscious level of something in the past that is still unresolved and held as tension in the body. In reaction to our child or partner, all of a sudden, stress levels rise, anger develops, muscles tighten, heart beat gets faster, breathing becomes shallow and we lose our ability to be present in the moment and stay calm. Without realizing it, we’re caught in the fight/flight/freeze response and there’s no time to sit and listen when things feel this urgent. In these moments we act more from a hurt child place than a conscious adult place.

How to Manage in Difficult Situations: We need to view our yelling and exploding as OUR cue to self-regulate (not act out on our loved one.) We need to come back to our confident, adult self and out of the hurt child state. Perhaps we need some non-judgmental listening, meditation, relaxation we need to reconnect with our self and reconnect with our child or partner. We will not be able to get back on track until we slow down and release the pressure from us both. How do we do this in a healthy way?

Mindfulness: We can become more mindful of our “triggers” or “hot buttons”, reflect on the things that your child or partner does that really anger you. Explore what’s familiar about these situations, the more aware we are of our triggers, the less power they have during difficult situations. Also explore where you feel anger in your body so that you can start recognizing your body’s signals BEFORE you explode/implode.

Listening Heals: Counseling can be a great way to explore and resolve “stuck” feelings and patterns from the past that prevent growth in the present.

Self-care: Most times, when we’re feeling angry, this is because of unmet needs. In the midst of your busy schedule, take time to rest, enjoy life in this moment and take care of yourself. Find an activity that you enjoy and take time to participate in that activity often. Spend time in relationship with people you enjoy, take time to connect with others.

“Name it to Tame it”: This is a phrase coined by Dr. Daniel Siegel, which means simply naming what you’re feeling which can be very powerful. When we tell our children, “You’re making me feel angry”, we give them the message that they are in control of our feelings and it’s their responsibility to keep us happy. Whereas, when we say, “I feel angry”, we take responsibility for how we feel, we identify the feeling and are honest and can then model self-regulation skills to our children. “Mommy needs to take 10 deep breaths to cool off right now.”

Visualizations: If you can remember a red stop sign when you’re feeling angry, this will help you STOP. When feeling emotionally charged, it’s hard to remember the theory but the brain tends to recall visual imagery. Therefore, imagine a red stop sign when you start to feel angry and take your cue to cool off.

Basic Needs: Make sure your basic needs are met throughout the day to include regular food, water and exercise. Keep in mind the acronym H.A.L.T. which means to monitor when you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. These are especially vulnerable times that can quickly turn into an explosion of anger if not tended to.

Be Gentle with Yourself: Keep in mind, we all try our best not to explode or implode on our loved ones, but it happens from time to time. When this happens, be sure to apologize and take responsibility for your behavior which is vital to reconnecting with loved ones after an explosion. Then, self-reflect and discover what’s going on inside of you, what needs do you have that are going unfulfilled?


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About Stevie Wilson, LPC

Stevie Wilson is a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in working with children and families.

View all posts by Stevie Wilson, LPC

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