This is my challenge lately. Be angry, but don't respond in anger. I DO get angry when my kids misbehave. I do get angry at the constant sibling rivalry. I do get angry when the Big Guy throws a tantrum. I can try to claim that I don't...I can even try to convince myself that I'm not angry...but I'm still angry. The trick is to not show them that I'm angry.
I love John Rosemond's book Six Point Plan for Raising Happy Healthy Children. It is a book that comes from a parenting era long past , but it resonates with my soul. Maybe that is because he talks about a parenting style that produces happy parents. He freely admits that parents ought to be angry when the kids act up. He argues that you should choose that moment, when you are angry, as the right moment for doing something about their acting up...and not to ignore it and pretend that they aren't making you mad. To ignore your anger turns it into rage, and in rage you make truly bad parenting decisions.
I know that the Big Guy responds better when I can calmly carry him to his room during a tantrum and drop him off. He doesn't respond to trying to reason with him, he doesn't respond to yelling back at him and he doesn't respond to ignoring him (oooohhh...that makes him MAD).
Sometimes I forget that I know this mantra (say it with me: Be Angry, don't Act Angry) and get caught up in the feeling that my girls should know how mad I am and then they might feel a stronger impetus to change their behavior. But I know that they will feel more respected if I can respond to them firmly & calmly, and that respect will help them to act positively.
Today my two girls have been fighting something awful. We already had several "discussions" about it when I told Sweetness that I was going to give her one warning to try harder to solve whatever they were fighting over and if they didn't make an effort, whatever they were fighting about was going to be taken away. It was only a half hour later when they were fighting over a stupid plastic apple. It happened as we were driving in the car, bringing my mother-in-law Jan back from the airport. There was no effort made to reconcile after my warning, so I told Sweetness to hand me the toy. That blessed girl actually chucked it at my head. Because Jan was in the car, my ever-so-sweet controlled self told my daughter that there would be consequences later and declined to deal with it right then. Had my mother-in-law not been in the car, I'm sure I would have lost my cool and discussed it with anger. After we dropped off Jan, I told Sweetness what her punishment would be and she accepted it without complaint and even apologized for throwing it at me. Somehow I don't think that would have happened if I had lit into her in the heat of my anger.
I wish someone would take a picture of me when I am angry and have lost my cool and am yelling about something. I have a feeling I would be horrified by how I look and perhaps I could keep that image in my head to remind me of who I don't want to be. Not that I want any of you chasing me around with a camera...