I Totally Lost It!
When his daughter, Grace, was 2, Robert Needlman, MD, suffered a meltdown of his own when he couldn't understand which book she wanted him to read. "I yelled, stamped my foot, and threw several picture books on the floor in utter frustration," says the associate professor at Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University.
It's scary for a child to watch all-powerful adults lose control. Dr. Needlman knows well that parents' anger leads kids to believe that they deserve to be yelled at; it tells them that their parents don't have control over the situation.
It's inevitable that your child will see you angry sometimes, Dr. Needlman says. What matters is how you handle the aftermath, as well as your future conflicts, to make sure it doesn't become a pattern. "It's not necessarily bad for your child to see you losing it and then being okay afterward; they can learn, Oh, that reaction was a little bit more than I intended!"