July 02, 2015

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.

Answered by Dr. Harley A. Rotbart