Dear Dish-It: My Dad Always Overreacts

Dear Dish-It,

My dad is awesome! He loves to go out on fun trips like Lebanon and Dominican Republic! But sometimes I wish he would stop overreacting about everything. I mean, just now he dropped a bunch of coffee cups (because we own a business) and he got mad and yelled at me … then he kissed me as if nothing happened! It’s starting to get annoying – and I get scared when he yells. I tried talking to him but he raises his voice so I get scared again. What should I do?

scared and annoyed

Dear s&a,

In terms of your dad overreacting to stuff, that may just be the way he is. One of the hardest things in the world to do is to make someone change – especially after they’ve been or acted a certain way their whole lives. If you want to help your dad feel less stressed out and angry over the little things that happen in life, you can either talk to him about it (in a calm and gentle way, explain that you’re worried because he gets so worked up about the smallest little problems and incidents, and tell him that sometimes it scares you when he gets so worked up) or set a good example for him by not overreacting to things yourself. Maybe if you lead the way, you dad’s behavior will change?

The other thing is that even though he’s your father, your dad is a human being, just like you. Every one of us gets angry sometimes. The important thing to remember, though, is that anger doesn’t really solve anything. When your dad gets angry and overreacts or loses his temper, the main goal – for both you and him – is to calm him down and try to solve whatever problem is making him upset, whether it’s big or small. The worst possible thing for you to do when your dad is angry is egg him on or provoke him – in other words, you don’t want to do anything to make him more and more upset!

Finally, it sounds to me like your dad has a bit of a bad temper – that’s what causes him to overreact to small issues. Having a bad temper means acting very angry and out of control. The thing is, your dad, like I said before, is a person, and all people have a right to express their feelings – even angry ones. What’s not OK is to express those feelings in a way that hurts other people – physically or emotionally. If you feel like your dad is really hurting you beyond simply expressing his feelings – which he is allowed to do – then you should talk to another adult you trust about it.

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