How to Keep from Overreacting When Your Kids Drive You Crazy - Book Review

Lawrenceville, New Jersey - Children know how to push their parent's buttons at the worst possible moments. In grocery stores, at church, or during an important conversation, children throw tantrums, interrupt, or simply misbehave in ways that drive parents crazy. "When children are unhappy, they know how to draw you into a fight," say Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. "Kids know just where your buttons are and how to push them to make you angry."

In their new book, Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character . . . in You and Your Kids (Shaw Books), Turansky and Miller explain how anger can drain parents of much-needed energy and create negative side-effects. "Children who grow up with explosive parents," they say, "learn to focus more on pleasing people than on living with a conviction of right and wrong."

Since parents, not children, are supposed to set the emotional climate in a family, parents must offer a positive example. One of the goals of good parenting is to help children change their hearts, not just the behavior itself. The methods that a parent uses in instructing a child is as important as the message they confer. When children receive instruction without the context of relationship, for example, they are more likely to justify unkind words or dishonoring actions.

In Good and Angry, Turansky and Miller provide help for exasperated parents. They offer ways to teach children contentment and responsibility, help children change bad attitudes, develop honesty, and nurture self-control. "Kids learn best from repetition and consistency over time," say the authors. They suggest, "We encourage parents to use anger as a tool rather than as a weapon."

One of the problems most families face is that they get stuck in the same destructive patterns when dealing with conflict. The solution is not to simply endure your kids' weaknesses or assume they will outgrow insensitivity or impulsiveness. Rather, it is to learn to respond in ways that will lead to a positive-mature solution.

"Parenting isn't just about getting tasks done," say Turansky and Miller, "It's about building character at the same time." They suggest that lasting change is generally preceded by building relationship with your child. When children don't do what you ask them to do, yelling isn't necessary-more effective, accountability is. "We give parents a toolbox full of ideas so they can look at problems like lying, annoying behavior, and defiance as opportunities for teaching instead of feeling like they are in a torture chamber," say the authors.

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