How to control your temper as a parent

Understanding how much patience our Father in Heaven has for us helps to put into perspective the patience we should have for our children.

I have found two main activities that have helped me remain calm in otherwise stressful situations with my six children.They are:

Have personal and family prayer together with scripture study. This helps to bring reverence in the home on the part of all.

Attend the temple regularly. I began working as an ordinance worker at the San Diego Temple and immediately noticed how my demeanor changed with my family. I have been able to maintain a more eternal perspective on the most minor events in our family.

I feel I am a better father since my wife and I have made the commitment to attend the temple once a month in addition to my weekly assignments. Great and hidden blessings will come to you through attending the temple. Learning how to rear an eternal family is one of the greatest blessings of all. - W. Denis Nurmela, Sun City, Calif.

What we did:

Full of love

Doctrine and Covenants 12:8 states: "And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love . . . being temperate in all things. . . ."

What a tall order for parents. There are and will always be times in the home when things get hectic and tempers rage. The parents are the foundation of home life and, therefore, need to remain in control of themselves in order to help the children resolve differences. In the scripture previously quoted, there are several things mentioned that may help us to think about our purpose. If we are humble and full of love, we will have a better chance of being in control of our tempers. - Chris Wiggins, Tucson, Ariz.

Soothing music

Techniques parents can use to control their tempers are the following:

Play soothing music to calm nerves.

Take a parent time out.

Plan a fun excursion away from the kids to give you something to look forward to. This can be as simple as going to the library or to a park.

Determine why children are misbehaving. Is it lack of sleep? Food? Do they need some special attention? Do they feel out of control or lack competence in a certain skill?

Have your spouse take over when it gets too stressful.

Most important, try to get enough sleep. Sleep helps lessen stress levels. - Lisa J. Peck, Provo, Utah

Changed ways

When our children were young, I was very strict and would be angry over normal childhood actions and mistakes. One day in sacrament meeting, as I looked down from the choir at the sad little faces of our children, I was filled with love and compassion for them. I realized that if they were to be happy, I must change my angry ways. Through a lot of prayer and hearkening to the teachings of the Church, I made some decisions. I decided to talk in a soft mild voice. (At first the children didn't hear very well.) I began to look for more things to praise and not criticize so much. I decided to not let a spirit of anger enter my heart. I learned to "let it go," that their tender feelings were more important than a broken glass, spilled milk, etc. I'm so thankful for the inspiration and guidance that helped me to take away the anger and make our home a more peaceful, loving haven for our family. - Pearl H. Conrad, Raymond, Alberta

Eternal perspective

A good question to ask ourselves is, "Am I treating my children the way that I would want to be treated if I were a child?" It's good to put ourselves in their shoes and see if we would act differently. Also, as we read from the Book of Mormon daily, we will have the Spirit, which will help us deal with the problems that may come up that day.

Regular attendance at the temple gives us an eternal perspective, which will affect how we treat others. I remember the sweet words of my grandmother, which have stayed with me throughout the years. Whenever something went wrong, she would say, "It's just a little detail." Her example has helped me to be positive and to not get upset over things that really don't matter. - Kay Little, Lakeside, Calif.

Sense of humor

I believe the first and foremost thing to remember as a parent is to realize that I am a partner with not only my spouse, but also with my Father in Heaven in rearing these precious spirits He has sent into my home. No time that is spent on my knees in heartfelt prayer to Him is time wasted. I know that He desires to bless us in our righteous endeavors as parents, but that we must first humble ourselves and ask for His help and guidance.

Second, I have learned that having a healthy sense of humor is critical to controlling my temper when it comes to my children. When tense situations arise with my two daughters, I have been able to release most of the anger I feel by simply smiling and laughing. I believe that laughter is a great way to reach children by trying to understand them and their level of reasoning.

I know I feel much better and more in control after solving a problem this way than if I had immediately started yelling and shouting. - Alison Hamilton, Medford, Ore.

A real lifesaver

During an April 1996 regional Primary leadership meeting, a member of the Primary General Board taught leaders that sometimes the child who misbehaves the most is the child who needs the most love. The board member said the child is sending out an S.O.S. She then gave us an S.O.S. formula.

Stop and "bridle all your passions." (Alma 38:12.)

Open your heart "that ye may be filled with love." (Alma 38:12.)

See the child as the Savior might see him/her. (1 Sam. 16:7.)

I have used this S.O.S. with Primary children, but I have also found that as a mother with teenage children at home, S.O.S. has been real lifesaver. I have learned to control my temper by doing this. I have learned to stop and look at each situation as the Savior would. I am then able to help my child and show forth love. It always works! - Renee R. West, Rexburg, Idaho

How to checklist:

1 Invite the Spirit into your home; pray, study scriptures, attend the temple regularly.

2 Have eternal perspective; "let go" of unimportant things.

3 Speak in a soft, mild voice; find reasons to praise, not criticize; be humble, loving.

4 Take a time-out if needed; maintain sense of humor.


Sept. 20 "How to encourage young people to listen to general conference."

Sept. 27 "How to cope with the death of a parent."

Oct. 4 "How to apply general conference counsel in your life."

Oct. 18 "How to find balance as primary care-giver of a sick or elderly loved one."

Oct. 25 "How to fortify your homes against evil."

Nov. 1 "How to avoid a mid-life crisis."

Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to get out of a rut in your career," "How to develop a healthy dating relationship," "How to help yourself or loved one overcome an abusive nature."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2524 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed