Q: Am I a terrible parent if I have yelled at my 2-year-old? When I get to a high frustration or stress level, I just blow a gasket and I don't know what to do with myself. I feel bad about getting frustrated, and I certainly don't want to teach my son bad habits like yelling when he gets mad. What can I do to defuse the frustration before I start yelling?
A: Kids, especially toddlers, give parents wonderful opportunities for practicing anger management because, as you noted, they can push us to the edge. Time for a parent time-out. Put your child in a safe spot and walk away for a few minutes. Take deep breaths and have a cup of tea. Then, when you've regained your composure, rejoin your little "monster" for a calm discussion of what he did, why it upset you, and how he should behave the next time a situation like this comes up. You're right, we don't want to teach our kids to yell when dealing with frustration, but that requires teaching ourselves first.