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November 16, 2007 05:22 PM

When Parents Become Angry


It's one of the first questions doctors hear from new parents: how to handle a crying baby. But it's a situation that any parent or caretaker can struggle with. 


It’s no secret, being a parent can be stressful. And when you're a new parent doctors say it’s easy to become overwhelmed when you're trying to care for a baby. And they say when that happens; parents need to make time for themselves. 

“Its amazing what you'll think about when you have a fussing baby and are trying to calm them down but the child isn't angry at you,” said Pediatrician Rick Kooima with Avera’s McGreevy Clinic. 

Kooima says the overwhelming emotions associated with raising a young child can easily become feelings of anger. 

“Parents are having a hard time quieting a child down and can't get out of the situation and they reach a point where they don't know what to do with their anger and they attack the baby,” he said. 

Kooima says it’s important for parents to choose healthy ways to deal with that pressure to avoid violence and abuse. 

“You can be the best parent in the world and your baby is still going to cry sometimes, it doesn't mean you are a bad parent,” Kooima said. 

Kooima says parents can easily become caught up trying to sooth a screaming child. He says thinking about things this way may help: babies cry because that’s how their bodies relieve tension, not because they’re upset with their parents. Kooima says it’s most important not to loose focus of the situation. 

“They forget to take care of their own emotions if you will and it’s ok to take a step back,” Kooima said. 

Kooima says if a parent starts to feel anger, putting the baby down for a nap and turning on some soothing music in another room can help a parent regain control. He also says finding someone else to watch the child and taking a short walk is a good alternative. 

“But, especially colicky babies, you need to take a step back and calm down before you start picking your child up again,” he said. 

Kooima also says another part of the reason new parents can become easily overwhelmed is because they're over-tired. Waking up every few hours of the night to care for an infant can take a toll on anyone.
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