Expert Parenting Advice
Practical parenting tips and advice from experts around the world

How to turn your anger into a teachable moment

Why you should not hide your negative emotions from your children. And why you getting mad or upset could be good for your children.

Back in 1880, Thomas Edison filed the patent for the light bulb.

He tried 2000 different materials to use in his light bulb. But none of them worked. His assistant was crushed, and exclaimed:

“All our work is in vain. We have learned nothing.”

But Edison was not worried, and said:

“Oh, we have come a long way and we have learned a lot. We now know that there are two thousand elements which we cannot use to make a good light bulb.”

Why am I telling your this?

Well, sometimes being a parent can feel like you are just making a string of mistakes.

For me, my intention every morning is to remain calm, to connect with my children, and to not threaten or yell at my kids.

But then, just like that, my son starts throwing his sister's toys down the stairs, my daughter starts throwing her toys at my son, all my good intentions fall apart, and I start yelling "That's it, you are staying home today. No going to grandma's house!"

Instead of calming down the situation, I escalate it. Now I am dealing with kids that are even more upset. The only "improvement" is that they are now not fighting each other, but rather collaborating against me.

But here's the thing: just like Edison, instead of seeing these situations as "failures", you can instead reframe them as "opportunities".

When I spoke to Julie King, the best-selling co-author of How To Talk So LITTLE Kids Will Listen, one of the topics we discussed was how to manage your own negative emotions when your children start behaving badly.

Julie shared how you can use the times that you get mad and frustrated as opportunities to teach your kids about how to manage their own emotions.

Instead of trying to suppress or hide your negative emotions, you use them to show your children how to deal with their own negative emotions effectively.

Since I learned about this technique from Julie, I have been using it daily with my children. And I can see the difference in how they talk about their emotions and how they identify not only their own emotions but also other people's emotions.

To learn this technique for turning your negative emotions into opportunities to teach your children how to manage their own negative emotions, check out the full interview with Julie King - How to use playfulness to get your child to cooperate (even when you aren’t feeling playful) - in our ebook How To Get Kids To Listen, available for free download here.