Since the commuter marriage fiasco of 2010-2011, there has been some definite backlash. The biggest backlash can be seen on a daily basis with my 4-year-old, Gabi. She’s one of those children who does everything in a big way. She loves in a big way, plays in a big way, feels every single emotion in a really impactful way. She also hurts in a very big way and I have found myself in the undesirable position of parenting an angry child.
Parenting an angry child is hard.
Gabi’s always been high strung and easily frustrated. Since being apart from her the Big Guy for 2 years at the ripe old ages of 2-4, she’s developed some attachment issues. I made the decision to stay in our home with the girls after the Big Guy lost his job, and found another one across the country. We all followed to be together. Within 7 months, we were downsized just as we were putting down new roots. We stiff upper lipped it and thanked God we were all together.
Out of a need to support his family, the Big Guy took the first job that he found, which was a 4-hour drive from our home and was a contract position. For those not familiar, contracting is like freelancing without an exact expiration date and after the recent relo and uproot we wanted the girls to have stability. We made the hardest choice of our married and parenting life thus far; we decided, for the sake of the girls, that I would reside in our home with our girls and the Big Guy would come home every weekend. This was not an easy decision and was hard on every one of us. It was almost unbearable.
Parenting an angry child is heartbreaking.
To anyone who’s never done this, let me assure you that it’s much harder than it sounds or you can imagine. We bit off more than we could chew. To say it was trying is the understatement of the year (of the 2 years). I may have given the girls a “home” but in the process robbed them of the attachment of their father.
This past August we uprooted from the only true home the girls have ever known so that we could all be together and moved in with our in-laws (that’s an entirely different post). The home we left behind is the home where Bella had every first from 5 months on and the very home where Gabi was conceived, born and raised for the past four years. It was just getting to be too hard on all of us; the children, the marriage and boundaries and relationships were getting blurred.
Both girls have abandonment issues now. Worse yet, Gabi is a very angry child due to the hurt and attachment issues she experienced at such a young age. I feel like the world’s shittiest mother when she’s screaming that she hates me and tells me that I don’t love her because she has been wounded in this process. I pray not irrevocably damaged. Her pain and frustration are audible but sometimes it’s hard to not get angry in response.
I love her so much but parenting an angry child who constantly gets frustrated and goes directly to ” I hate you”, “You’re the worst Mom in the world”, ” You don’t love me do you?” is hard, especially the latter. Hearing “You don’t love me do you?” through tears and anger, cuts me to my quick and breaks my heart while simultaneously stirring feelings of anger. I try to reassure her, but it is met with a barrage of insults and disbelief.
Logic tells me that I need to listen and respond in an affirming way to let her know that she is safe and we will never leave her. It breaks my heart to know how badly I’ve hurt her simply by doing what I thought was best. Parenting is not an exact science but when parenting an angry child there is an even smaller margin of error.
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I’m trying to educate myself about how to do this parenting an angry child business appropriately without causing further damage and understanding what she needs. I am trying to learn to respond and react appropriately. Remembering to set boundaries on her behavior without belittling her feelings. Even if the chance of abandonment is never going to happen, she needs to know and feel secure that there is nothing she could ever do to make us leave. More importantly, the separation was not because of anything she did or was the cause of.
I need her to understand that we recognize her feelings. We need to help her recognize her primary feelings before it gets to the secondary feeling of anger. For angry children, anger is almost never the initial reaction to a situation. It is usually preceded for a split second by embarrassment, sadness, fear, hurt, disappointment or worry. I need to catch that moment and let her know that I recognize THAT feeling and that it’s okay to feel that way. I need to let Gabs know that I understand that she is feeling that way and that it is perfectly normal. Assure her that there is no blame. I need to love her, even when she is trying to push me away. I need her to know that our parent-child relationship is unbreakable.
Parenting an Angry Child will Heal her Wounds
It’s a long road ahead but I will do whatever is necessary to repair this wound and soothe my angry child. Do you have an angry child? What are some techniques you use to move past the anger when parenting an angry child? How do you validate without frustrating your angry child or getting angry yourself? How does this work with other siblings? Being that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, does this cause other issues with the more adjusted children? How do you go about parenting an angry child?