Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Contact Us

How to Stop Snapping at Your Kids

How to Stop Snapping at Your Kids

 Email

Question:

I have a dark secret. I have an anger problem. And I never knew it until I became a parent. Because the only people I take my anger out on are my own kids. I never had a temper before, but sometimes when my children misbehave and I am at my limit, I just explode and lose control. I don’t like myself at those moments, and know it is wrong. And yet I haven’t been able to control it. Any pointers on how to not lose it with my kids?

Answer:

Your dark secret is the dark secret of every parent. We all have our weak moments, when a combination of lack of sleep, pressures of life and our imperfect hearts conspire to make us lose it. And who are the poor victims of our fury? Those we love most, our children.

If it is happening frequently or if you are really harming your kids, you need urgent professional help. But if you’re loving and good to your kids overall, and you just snap now and then, you’re human. That doesn’t excuse your behavior; it just means you need to work on yourself, like everybody does.

Here are some wise words the Rebbe offered to a father who had the same dark secret.

The Rebbe asked, “If your neighbor dropped off his kids at your house to look after while he went out, and during that time the neighbor’s kids misbehaved, would you lose your temper with them?”

The father had to admit that no, when it is someone else’s kids misbehaving, we don’t allow ourselves to lose control, because they are not our kids. How could we face our neighbor when he returns to pick up his kids, only to find them crying and hurt? We don’t feel free to lose ourselves when the kids aren’t ours.

“Well,” continued the Rebbe, “your children are not yours either. They are G‑d’s children. He has entrusted them to you for a while to take care of. And you are answerable to G‑d for how you treat them.”

This simple but profound insight redefines the parents’ role. Children are not our property; they do not belong to us. They belong to G‑d, and we have been honored with the heavy responsibility of caring for them in their young years and guiding them for their future. If we’d be embarrassed to return our neighbor’s children having hurt them, then how much more should we recoil from the thought of hurting G‑d’s children.

As parents, we need to discipline our kids—that is an essential part of our role. But that must come from a place of love, not anger. It must be deliberate and thought-out, not impulsive and reactive.

This is all easy to say when we are calm and well-rested. But what do you do when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks, and you haven’t had three minutes to yourself since your five-year-old was born, and there’s pressure at work, and your sister-in-law has been driving you crazy about her silly issues, and everyone is hungry, and dinner is late, and just then your little boy kicks his soccer ball (which he knows he isn’t allowed to do indoors), and it knocks the platter of chicken onto the floor, which was just mopped by the overpriced cleaning lady (who told you she’s not coming back, as she got a permanent job), and as it smashes into a thousand pieces, your daughter says, “Good, I don’t like chicken,” and your other son says, “Can we go out for dinner now?” What do you do then?

You say two words to yourself: G‑d’s kids.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
12 Comments
1000 characters remaining
R.H Tucson via m.jewishorovalley.com July 3, 2016

We are far from perfect as people and this means also as parents. My mother told me I was parenting better than she had. I told her that I would not be better but I would make different mistakes and that 20 years in the future I would find out what those mistakes were. So when my son turned 20 I asked him what he thought of his parents and what he would have wanted us to have done differently. He thought about it and said he thought we were fine and he would not have done anything differently. This was the greatest accolade! Reply

Dana via chabadrt.org July 1, 2016

outburst I love that idea.. I will try to remember it next outburst.. Reply

Racheli Florida July 1, 2016

Thank You BS"D

This message is truly profound.
I really needed to hear this :)
Thank you so much for sharing this powerful and important message!
Good Shabbos Reply

Anonymous June 30, 2016

re: Anonymous Boston (and Yaakov Mark). Also there are not enough characters in the comment box to say this but Yaakov mark, where did the Rebbe say this? Some people (like me) are to shy to put their names out there.
Anonymous Boston, I don't think with most children if their parents explode at them will in the moment stop to think about the cascade of events that may have led to this "straw". Or maybe after the storm has calmed they may think about it in retrospect and come to an understanding but before that a microcosm world war 3 happened and some hurtful and chutzpadik words were exchanged. People tend to mirror each other so if a parent explodes at his/her child, chances are the child will explode back (unfortunately most children nowadays do not have the level or kibud av vaem that the torah expects of us). No understanding that comes after can justify such sin. The parents anger in itself is also a sin for if someone gets angry it is as if he worshipped idols (I don't remember the source for this is someone please help me out). There are ways to make your child understand the severity of their actions without losing control, not enough characters to explain what I think about how. Reply

Amy Colorado June 29, 2016

Thank you! Wow! So simple, yet right on! It changed the way I interacted with my girls! Thank you! Reply

JDV Paramus June 29, 2016

Aron Moss anger with children So true - they are not our property. Lack of time and stress, stress, stress is causing a lot of this and also, lack of understanding. when I was working for the office of children as a social worker, I studied a lot about childhood development. We are so keen to have knowledge about careers, academic subjects which will never be useful, but so many of us lack important information. How to understand kids. if you understand them, it is easier to bring them up. Reply

Yaakov Mark Los Angeles June 27, 2016

Are you serious? Children do not Have any kind of NEED to see their parents explode. That is just a ridiculous excuse. To see a parent explode creates fear and Trauma. If you think exploding on children is a good thing, you need a doctor yourself for sure. And by the way @Anonymous Boston, The Rebbe was very big on signing your name to something you write.

Exploding may be hard to avoid, but it should never be looked at as a normal OK behaviour. Have the moral fortitude to admit your faults and stop trying to make some rational excuse for the bad behaviour. Their are many better ways to express seriousness to your child without an explosion. Reply

Krana Nebenzahl Crown Heights, Bklyn, NY June 27, 2016

EXCELLENT!!! REALLY enjoyed this! Short, to-the-POINT, & the part about the soccer ball? VERY amusing! Keep up the good work! Pleased to discover" you! Going to check out your other articles now... Reply

Susan Levitsky June 27, 2016

It's not just with children We are always more careful with our actions with strangers than with our own families. It doesn't make any sense because our relationships should be more important. For instance, if we are on an airplane beside a non-stop talker or armrest usurper we would never think to lash out at that stranger. A family member will sooner than later be told to shut up or get an angry elbow in the ribs. The difference is that the family member will not retaliate but the stranger will.
This is a problem in every family. We don't treat our family as well as would treat strangers in a similar situation. If this is a frequent occurrence then a person may need help with anger management. Counting to ten helps some people but makes me want to explode. If this is not the norm then your kids will probably brush it off as Mom is having an off day. If this is your normal behavior please seek out help so your children don't grow up in the presence of constant anger. Reply

Anonymous brooklyn June 27, 2016

and some therapy wouldn't hurt either Reply

Binyamin Rothstein Maryland June 27, 2016

Anger Anger is not just about weak moments. Often there is a much deeper issue involved. There is a very common genetic condition that is common in Jews, it is called MTHFR. on the upside those who have this condition tend to be dedicated, proactive, caring and involved. On the down side these wonderful people are prone to anxiety, OCT,anger, frustration, women get PMS, and many of them become depressed. It is genetic and the best we can do is manage it. It is really managed by taking a few simple supplements. Reply

Anonymous Boston June 27, 2016

Sometimes exploding is helpful Children do need to see that their actions can make their parents explode. My children, who are now all adults, told me recently that sometimes they needed to see me explode to see and feel how important specific actions were. An angry outburst shook at something like a small inconsiderate act that proverbially "broke the camels back" made them reconsider that cascade of small actions. Reply

Related Topics
This page in other languages