Anger: Using it, not Losing it Us and Them

As we all know, anger is a very challenging emotion but it is simply an emotional response to a grievance. By learning to manage your anger, you have control over it, instead of it having control over you. Then you can act rather than re-act.The first step in managing your anger is to acknowledge the fact that you are having a legitimate feeling. Too often when you are angry, we’re told you shouldn’t feel that way, which can be very destructive.

What messages were you given as a child when you got angry?

“You shouldn’t get angry”

“Don’t raise your voice”

“Getting angry takes up too much energy”

“I’ll show you angry”

“You always have to get your way don’t you?”

What were you deciding about feeling angry or about yourself or about the person who gave you the response? There is a big difference in the way we feel, if we are shut down compared to being allowed to be expressive and accepted.

When your child’s angry a great way to respond is with reflective listening,

Your child says, “I feel angry” and you reflect back exactly what they have said, “You feel angry.”

Then your child says, “I feel angry because” and fills in the rest. You reflect back exactly what they have said.

Notice how tempting it is to either want to fix the problem, correct your child or start analysing what the problem really is. It is important as children to be able to know what you feel without expecting anyone else to feel the same way. It is equally as important to say what you wish would happen without expecting anyone to give you your wish. Reflective listening encourages our children to solve their problems themselves by using us as a sounding board, feeling heard and supported.

When coaching I often ask my parents to put themselves in their child’s shoes, looking at the world through their eyes, (without your adult head of rational) in response to an angry adult and ask yourself

· How do you feel ?

· What are you thinking?

· What are you deciding to do?

We need to be aware of ourselves as adults, when we are trying to be most controlling it is usually when we have lost control ourselves. Very little constructive learning can be done with anger and the output of negative energy. When your child thinks you are angry with them, they often behave worse. Discipline to be effective needs to be rational and loving (remember kind and firm at the same time). While it is fine to tell your child you are angry about a particular behaviour, it is counterproductive to scream out a punishment in anger. There’s a big difference between the two. We need to focus on teaching children that their behaviour affects others and that if they are hurting others, an adult will help them stop.

Top Tips

Your toddler hits you. Punitive parents hit back, yell or threaten. Or you could take your toddler’s hand and gently pat yourself with it saying, “Show me soft hands.”

Your child is playing roughly with a toy. Punitive parents use emotional blackmail, saying things like “You’re such a baby. You’re so selfish. You’re so clumsy,” hoping that the results will encourage their children to do better. But you take the toy, put it in a safe place and say, “Let me know when you’re ready to try again and play more gently.” If your child says “I’m ready” and continues playing roughly, put the toys away and say, “I’ll let you know when I’m ready to try again”.

You’ll notice that parents using Positive Discipline don’t ignore problems. They are actively involved in helping their children learn how to handle situations more appropriately while remaining calm and themselves.

I am parent too, I know it’s not always easy but we can teach ourselves. When we are calmer, so are our children.