Sad Instead of Mad

Whenever our kids do something wrong, most of the time, we get mad. I am not excluded. Whenever my son does something that irks me, I get mad. Reading this parenting article today made me realize that I need to make changes in my approach of disciplining him. I did notice that he gets mad easily and he could be getting it from my reaction to him.

Take some time to read this parenting article I got from my email… It could also be an eye opener to you.

Often parents have a poor repertoire of discipline techniques so they do what comes naturally—they use anger as a consequence. Anger becomes the punishment that children learn to fear and the result is distance in relationships. Parents want to express disapproval for misbehavior and anger becomes the vehicle for showing it.

Imagine this scenario: You’re making dinner and your six-year-old daughter, Amy, comes into the room complaining that she’s hungry. You tell her that you’re making dinner and that she needs to wait. She persists and complains that she hasn’t eaten all day. You remind her that she had a snack a few hours ago and then encourage her to leave the room. Instead of leaving, she begins to whine, “I’m starving.” Finally you sigh and offer her a banana or an apple. “I don’t like bananas! I don’t want an apple!” Okay, you give in. You offer her some milk and a cookie. Amy is so excited she jumps up…and knocks over the milk! You’ve had it! That was the last straw. Now you’re really angry and yell, “What’s the matter with you? Now look what you’ve done!!”

Think a minute. What caused you to lose control? Was it the spilled milk, or was it the fifteen minutes of whining and complaining? If we wait until we become angry to discipline, then we end up responding like a time bomb. Our children can never be sure when we’ll explode.

In this situation, Mom needed to take action earlier. “Amy, it makes me sad that you keep asking after I said No. You need to go play in your room until I call you for dinner.”

In honor-based parenting, anger and its accompanying distance are not appropriate consequences. Instead, parents learn to reflect sorrow. Some parents may feel like hypocrites because they don’t feel sad, they feel mad. But it doesn’t take long for a parent to recognize that the sorrow is there. It’s just masked by the anger. If you peel away the anger you will genuinely feel sad that your child is acting out or choosing to disobey. You see that the misbehavior will lead to an unhappy and unsuccessful life. Reflecting sadness is much more beneficial to the child and to the relationship.

Try it; you may be surprised. Children often open up in response to sadness and you may end up with a productive conversation. Sadness opens relationships; anger shuts them down. It may take some practice, and self-control, but your relationships with your kids will benefit in the end.

This idea is honor-based parenting skill #2 from Chapter 6 in the book, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes, In You and Your Kids by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.


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  2. This post couldn’t have come at a better time. This past week, almost every night, I end up in a fit of rage over my daughter’s stubbornness. That’s sound advice: to be sad instead of mad. I never realized that kids respond better to sadness. I will practice that later, thanks 🙂

  3. I hadn’t noticed how often I had been getting angry at the little ones until I saw my daughter scowl at her brother, put her hands on her hips, and yelled, “I told you!” Seems the little girl has almost perfected her imitation of angry mama.

    I’ve been trying to lessen angry outbursts. Instead of yelling at them, I just sing my instructions or warnings. I’ve found out that singing or talking in singsong works a lot better at making them cooperative.

  4. This is my problem, too. I think not a day goes by that I don’t get mad at my son’s misbehavior. What makes him stop is when I tell him he will have a time-out, a longer time-out, that is, which means he’ll just be standing by our main door and cannot go anywhere for a particular period of time. He cries a lot when I do that. I usually raise my voice when I’m mad and look like a monster mom, too. I don’t like getting mad because it’s stressful, but I can’t help it! I’ll try practicing this “sad instead of mad” technique with my little boy, and I hope it works!

  5. This so right! Whenever my kids do something bad, I get angry and would shout at them. They don’t even bother to listen to me. But there was one time, I was unhappy with other issues, and I cried. My boys came to me and ask me why – I told them that they are hard headed sometimes. Then they felt sorry for me and promised not to do it again.

  6. Thank you for posting this. Lately I have been having a hard time disciplining my kids. I come home tired from work and easily irritated when they don’t want to do their homework and they mess up the room when it’s time for bedtime. I learned from reading your post, yes showing anger is not the solution.

  7. Recently, when my daughter thinks she is not being given enough attention, she draws me a sad face saying that’s her. That got me really worried but now I’m glad she’s drawing a sad face than a mad face. A hug easily washes away the sadness. Amazing how kids easily forgives.

  8. thanks for sharing this. i guess, we, moms, have been letting loose of our temper whenever kids do make wrong moves:)

  9. moms tend to explode if kids make mistakes, and i am no exemption. after i get mad, i feel that i shouldn’t acted the way i did. at the end, we know that anger is not the solution to discipline our kids.

    this is a great read. thanks for sharing.

  10. I am guilty of this. When she keeps shouting at her little brother, I tell my 4-year-old not to do that in a near shout of my own. I guess she gets confused. Thanks for sharing this!

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