I yell at my kids.
Two weeks ago, I left Avery coloring in the family room while I went to the kitchen to make coffee. Exactly 90 seconds later, I returned to find her limbs covered in ballpoint pen -- as was our beige sofa. I snapped, snatched a sponge, and scolded her loudly enough for the neighbors to hear. As her face crumpled into tears, I immediately felt awful too. She'll be scarred for life, I thought, especially if that black ink doesn't come off her arms. (It did.)
GIVE UP THE GUILT "We all lose our temper with our children from time to time," says Michael Thompson, Ph.D., a psychologist in Arlington, Massachusetts, and author of It's a Boy! Understanding Your Son's Development From Birth to Age 18. The good news? Blowing your stack once in a while can actually be a good thing: "Children need to see that parents aren't perfect," says Dr. Thompson. Yay to that!
MAKE IT BETTER "If you do lose your temper, give your child an apology and a brief explanation later," says Nell Gibbon, a psychotherapist and founder of Village Parenting and Counseling, in New York City. Going forward, try to stop things from escalating by allowing yourself a brief time-out. If possible, close your eyes and take slow, cleansing breaths for a minute -- not only will you feel calmer, you'll also be modeling self-soothing for your child. If she sees you deal with your anger this way, she'll start to use it as a technique when she feels mad or frustrated.