Why does a person get angry? What is it about a child’s behavior that can cause a parent to lose control? Parents get angry and lose control with their children when they experience stress or anxiety above their levels of tolerance. Typically, when parents experience this level of stress, one of their four core fears—danger, failure, loss of love, and loss of control— has been triggered by their children’s behavior. Often, the end result of this fear is the parent’s extreme emotional response to the situation. Learning to identify and better understanding the impact of these fears in our parenting helps us learn to maintain better personal control with our children.
Danger: The fear of their child being hurt, emotionally or physically. Parents who experience this core fear feel anxious when their child takes risks or is out of their sight. The most common way of relieving this anxiety is to protect. These parents have a hard time maintaining personal control when their efforts to protect are being avoided by the child.
Failure: The fear of failing as a parent, or their child failing as an adult. Parents who experience this core fear work hard to make their child a success and have a hard time maintaining personal control when their child’s behavior seems to work against them.
Loss of love: The fear of losing their child’s love. Parents who experience this core fear may rely on their child for feelings of affirmation and value. In times of trial they feel abandoned, alone, and betrayed by their child and may struggle to maintain personal control.
Loss of control: The fear of losing control of their child or the situation. Parents who experience this core fear see misbehavior as a sign of things to come. They are afraid that if they don’t get things under control, their child will grow up to be a hardened criminal or worse.