October 25, 2011 | in Nanny
One of the most commonly passed bits of anger management advice is to “count to ten.” As a parent or childcare provider, it can sometimes be tough to keep your composure when frustrations are running high; here are some of the reasons you should always remember to “count to ten.”
- To Avoid Guilt – Even when we’re dealing with children, we can all say things in a fit of anger that we certainly don’t mean. Counting to ten before reacting to a situation can give you a chance to self-censor, squelching the urge to say things that you’ll both feel terrible about later.
- More Productive Exchanges – Staying relatively calm and discussing things rationally is much more effective than shouting matches; by counting to ten and trying to remain in control of your emotions, you’ll boost the likelihood of a productive exchange.
- To Collect Your Thoughts – We’ve all been there; the perfect and unassailable point to cement our argument comes to us too late. This could be the result of giving into the impulsive nature of angry, confrontational debates. By taking ten seconds to collect your thoughts, you may be able to arrive at a rational response instead of shouting and making counterproductive accusations.
- To Make Better Decisions – Sometimes the heat of anger can cause us to make irrational demands based solely on a stubborn need to prove ourselves right. Taking a step back from the confrontation can allow the chance to examine our motives and be sure that we’re not proceeding out of the desire to merely “win” an argument.
- To Reduce Stress – Sometimes the children who test our patience the most, such as those with autism spectrum disorders or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, are the ones who have the greatest need for displays of patience. Shouting at a child who misbehaves as a result of a behavioral disorder typically causes unfavorable stress reactions, which only exacerbate the situation.
- It Offers a Much Needed Distraction – By focusing on the action of counting to ten, you’re distracting yourself from the event that’s causing you to be angry. Instead of mentally adding items to a list of grievances to hurl at someone, you’re forced to stick to the issue at hand.
- Responding Versus Reacting – Responding calmly and attempting to empathize is much more productive than simply reacting to anger with anger. Retaliatory actions do nothing to diffuse confrontations; taking a moment to be sure you’re responding sincerely can be helpful.
- Ensuring That You Make a Valid Point – Counting to ten and refusing to blindly react ensures that any points you make in the course of your dialogue will be rational and valid, as opposed to those driven by the heat of the moment.
- Setting The Right Example – Children who witness explosive displays of anger from their parents, either directed at them or at each other, are more likely to have trouble controlling their own anger later. Kids learn from example; taking ten seconds to make yourself aware of the example you’re setting can prevent serious trouble down the road.
- To Control a Biological Response – Anger is a very real biological response to upsetting situations. We’re hardwired to meet aggression with aggression; the left hemisphere of the brain sends signals that release adrenaline and increase heart rate, triggering the impulsive behavior that can be destructive to relationships. Counting to ten gives your body a chance to combat this physical response.
Anger is a natural response to stressful or upsetting situations. The key to controlling your anger is not to deny that it exists, but to manage it by refusing to give in to impulsive behavior. Learning to channel anger into something constructive can be a long and difficult process, but the simple step of counting to ten before reacting can make a significant difference in the way that we react.
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