We hear, “you hurt the ones you love the most" all the time as an excuse for why someone lashed out at someone they care about. Don’t accept that excuse! There is no reason to treat those you love poorly. We need to reframe that concept in our culture and treat the ones we care about the most, with the most love and respect. You take care of the things you value. Most people think of this in terms of possessions, like a family heirloom. This applies to more than just possessions, it applies to people. While its one thing to feel comfortable in sharing your emotions or being raw, it is never okay to lash out at someone or attack them. That's about the aggressor’s own level of self control or lack thereof.
Adding another layer to that kind of problematic behavior, is role modeling that (usually not realizing it) for your child. Children are watching people all the time to see how they react to situations. Have you ever heard your child use a grown up expression like "take care" or one that my son liked to use "that's in-app-wo-pwee-it?" They're watching you when you're frustrated, worried, angry, sad, embarrassed, nervous, and any other emotion too. How are you role modeling for them how to behave when you experience these emotions?
I have good news for you! It's never too late to change. Here’s an example of how to talk about it and get yourself, and consequently, your children, on the right track:
Be real. Tell the people that this effects, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about how I could handle some situations differently. Ya know how when I’m frustrated, I _(fill in the blank)_? I don’t want to react that way anymore. I’m going to do this instead _(fill in the replacement behavior_).
If your child is exhibiting the same problem behavior, you can add, “I’ve role modeled this for you. Now it’s time to change. Watch me to see how I respond in the future, and I’ll remind you in those situations how to change that behavior and I’ll help coach you along.”
Let your children know you are proud of them when they don't let a difficult situation lead to a melt down and instead keep calm and show self control. If a meltdown occurs in an appropriate place, like their bedroom or peace corner, praise them for taking their own break, removing themselves from the people around them and not lashing out to transfer emotion, in other words, not exasperating or unsettling those around them.
If you want to know more or if you have any questions, please reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org