This…thing happened a couple weeks ago.
I call it The Baggie Incident.
Now, every time I come across the box of baggies in the pantry, my cheeks burn with the memory.
How to Deal With Anger: A Cautionary Tale
My 7-year-old Abby finished half a granola bar and asked what to do with the other half.
I was busy paying bills, so I didn’t even look up when I answered. “You can get a baggie from the pantry and put it in there.”
I heard the pantry door open, and approximately 7.3 seconds later: “I can’t find the baggies.”
“If you look straight ahead, they’re right in front of you, on the lefthand side. The box of baggies is on top of a box of rice.”
5.2 seconds later: “I still can’t find them.”
I sighed and walked over to stand behind her. In that moment, I decided I wasn’t going to just reach in and grab it for her.
“Point to the shelf where you were looking,” I said.
“Yep, now show me where the lefthand side is.”
She pointed again.
“That’s it. Now there are two boxes in front of you. One of them has baggies in it.”
She just stood there.
“Abby! You’re staring right at it!”
“Easy,” my husband Ty called from the kitchen. Part of our agreement to intervene when one of us starts to lose our cool in the parenting struggles of the day.
I huffed, reached in to grab a baggie, and held it out in front of Abby’s face until she took it. Then, just as you’d expect from a mature 36-year-old adult, I stomped off to vent to Ty.
I felt good after venting. Heard. But you know what?
Sharing my frustrations did nothing to make my irrational anger go away. In fact, afterwards, I felt the heels of my anger dig deeper into the earth.
I had a bad mood the rest of the afternoon.
All because of a stupid baggie.
It’s just not worth it letting trivial things like that get under my skin. My 7-year-old was acting like a 7-year-old.
I missed a golden opportunity to teach her the valuable life lesson of using your eyeballs to find something.
But how can I transform that flash of annoyance into a playful attitude to help her learn in the moment? How can I keep from turning into the Incredible Hulk over a 5-inch square piece of plastic?
After doing some research, I learned that there’s a reason I didn’t feel better after venting to my husband.
Venting is not a great way to dissolve anger. It’s actually a horrible idea if you really want to stop being angry and get happy again.
What Does Work?
Do something to take your mind off the reason you’re angry, instead of feeding the anger growing inside you.
You can sneak away to play Spell Tower on your phone, or immerse yourself in any neutral task or activity like doing laundry. But who wants to do HOUSEWORK to relax?
Here’s something I tried this last weekend when the Hulk threatened again: I played with my toddler’s baby doll.
In normal circumstances, playing dolls is the last thing in the world I want to play with my kids. Give me LEGOs or Mrs. Biddlebox†, and I’m golden. But thinking up doll dialogue and plot lines requires more mental energy than I usually have.
This time, it was different.
When I felt super annoyed at my kids being kids, I scooped up the doll, went to my bedroom, and shut the door.
I sat down in the rocking chair and put the baby on my shoulder, closing my eyes and rocking back and forth.
Thinking back to when my youngest was a newborn, I patted the baby’s back.
I shushed the baby.
Sang Hush Little Baby. Three times.
I felt incredibly ridiculous at first, but then?
The anger started to wash away.
My breaths got deeper. And I got a handle on my anger before it ruined my day.
Here’s why this ridiculous anger management technique works:
- I didn’t focus on the source of my anger.
- I immersed myself in a neutral activity.
- I thought about a happy memory – my daughter as a newborn – and reconnected with my role as a nurturer.
The next time your kids get you riled up, grab a doll and try this. You might be pleasantly surprised.
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How to Find Happiness in the Chaos of Parenting
After my family welcomed our third little one into the mix, we became a family of five with a second-grader, a toddler, and a newborn. Even though I could have used more sleep and way more coffee, we were happy. Then my husband’s paternity leave ended, and I was at home with the kids all day. As time wore on, my patience became razor thin. And one day, I just broke.
The shame burns my cheeks just thinking of that day, even now. But thanks to that experience, I realized I had to make a change. I threw myself into researching how to find happiness in the chaos of parenting. Something beyond “make time for you” and “exercise more.” Because when you’re overwhelmed and at your breaking point, you don’t need the “experts” telling you more stuff to do on top of everything else.
That’s how I discovered the secrets: 10 secrets every parent should know about being happy. After hearing from hundreds of parents in the same boat as me, I knew I needed to share what I discovered. And so I wrote a book: Happy You, Happy Family.
Click here to get a free excerpt and start your journey towards finding more happiness as a parent.
Because the truth is that happiness won’t come from a big promotion at work, or from winning the lottery, or from your kids all learning to put their toys away when they’re done playing. Because eventually, you just get used to all that stuff.
True, lasting happiness comes from a conscious effort by you to put the right habits in place.
Before you go, get my FREE cheat sheet: 75 Positive Phrases Every Child Needs to Hear
How do you keep the Hulk at bay when your kids drive you crazy? Share your tip in a comment below!