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          Advice for Abusive Parents: REACH Out

          November 21, 2002

          If you’re struggling with your own anger, Dr. Phil suggests following these five steps before you lose control and act out with your child.

          Remove
          When you’re in a stressful situation and you begin to feel yourself snap, remove yourself. At that point say, “I’m going to get out of this situation so I don’t lose control.” You can send your child to his/her room to watch TV, to read a book — whatever it takes to give you a few moments to yourself. Or you can leave the room yourself. Go for a walk, take a shower — just remove yourself.

          Express
          People get physical when they run out of ways to express themselves. Learn to express your rage in a non-violent way. Write down everything you are feeling. This is a good thing to do after you have removed yourself.

          Alternatives
          Decompress the situation by doing something different. You could try relaxation exercises, prayer, reading, or listening to calming music. Do anything you can that is an alternative to escalating the situation. It’s vital that you get through the impulse to act out.

          Call for support
          You can’t always handle everything on your own. Be accountable to someone else, and lean on that person when you’re on the verge of harming your children. Your support person could be a parent, spouse, friend, pastor or another mom.

          Help
          Reach out and get the long-term help you need so that you can decompress from the inside out. Feelings of anger and rage are often connected to deeper issues. Seek out a professional counselor who can help you manage your anger.

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