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What can I do if I lose my temper and yell at my child?

Hal Runkel
Hal Runkel on behalf of ScreamFree
Marriage & Family Therapy
When you lose your cool and yell at a young child, the result is both some good news and some bad news.

The bad news is that these kinds of outbursts create wounds that can take time to heal. Sometimes those wounds make getting closer a little more difficult because of the fear of additional pain -- much like someone coming close to your bad sunburn. Our natural reaction is to flinch and pull away even if we don’t consciously believe the other person intends to hurt us.

But there is good news as well. Our bodies and minds and spirits are designed to heal and grow. What’s more is that we actually grow through struggle. It gives you an opportunity to shift from a head-to-head battle against each other to a shoulder-to-shoulder unified effort towards a mutually beneficial goal: connection. This is an opportunity for you to listen, to empathize with her emotion, and to work together to find alternative ways to get what you both want. It is about shifting away from a battle of wills and shifting toward ways you both can live out a family standard while maintaining relational connection.

As I mentioned earlier, the wounds of this interaction may make your relationship difficult for a while, but it is far from over. The emotion you described only occurs because you both care. People who do not care do not cry in their room. They disengage. They become cold and distant. Leaning in and being authentic with your daughter about your desire for her help may just achieve the common goal of connection.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.