Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mad Parenting: Are You Good With Anger?

Is your kid allowed to be angry? Are you?
This moment is either already familiar to you or is one that leaves you with a feeling of dread.

Your child throws a toy in frustration.
Your little one cries uncontrollably and is inconsolable.        
Your teen slams a door.
You hear rage-filled words like "I hate you" or "I wish you were dead".

If you're the parent of a younger child, you might call it a "meltdown".  For your older child, you might consider it a "phase" or console yourself with the thought that "she just needs to learn to accept no for an answer".
Parents,  let's call this what it is.  Your child is angryMadFrustrated. Maybe even enraged.
Anger is something that us grown-up kids have a real problem with.  We're not supposed to get angry.  We're not supposed to want to throw something against a wall.  If we feel that something in life is unfair, we're supposed to just deal with it.
Over and over again, we receive societal messages and expectations that tell us not to get mad.  This is what we've been taught and as a result, this is what we are teaching our kids.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Before I can help you manage and accept your child's anger, I have to help you first understand and accept your own.
Anger is just a feeling.  It has no more power over you than happy or sad.  It has a bad reputation because it is what sometimes leads people to scream, throw things, or lose control. So, we try to shut it down quickly,
That "shutting it down" is repression and when we repress our feelings, any of our feelings, they come out in other ways.  They may surface through depression.  You might withdraw from the relationships that make you feel angry.  Your body may literally hurt as your anger tightens into tension within your muscles.
We're all just grown-up kids here and what is true for us is true for kids
If they don't get to be angry, feel disappointment, and yes, even rage, their feelings will just show up in other ways.  Younger kids may have trouble settling for bed, have more crying spells or may struggle when playing with other kids.  Older kids may withdraw, stop talking, sulk about, and answer questions in short, rude tones.
These changes in kid behavior are what makes parents so nervous.  This is where the temptation to push the anger away and quickly redirect it comes from.  That makes sense.  No one will feel comfortable watching their child feel angry. 
That's ok.  You're the parent.  You're supposed to feel that way.
However, accepting and validating that your child or teen feels anger is the first step toward helping him or her manage it.
Don't worry.  I am not about to tell you to embrace a slammed door and relish in hearing hateful words.  They are not acceptable responses to anger and you'll have to teach your child to do better. 
I can help with that as we continue here.
Are you ready? 
In the coming weeks:
  1. I am going to continue this conversation on anger. 
  2. I am going to teach ways of validating the feelings your child is showing or expressing.
  3. I am going to provide words and skills you can use with your child in those moments.
As you prepare for this journey with me, prepare yourself and take stock:
  • How comfortable are you when you are feeling mad or angry?
  • What sorts of things make you feel mad or angry?
  • What do you do in those moments?
  • Do you think the people in your life allow you to be angry?
  • If not, how does that make you feel?
  • How does it feel to watch someone else angry? 
  • What was the last thing that made you mad?  Did someone validate it or minimize it?
  • When you are angry, what do you need to feel calm?

I am sure you're impatient for me to just get to it--to jump in to helping you help your kid.
Not so fast. 
Before you help your child with his/her anger, you have to know what you are bringing to the table. 
  • Get in tune with your thoughts and values about anger. 
  • Prepare yourself to accept that your child gets mad and even feels rage. 
Depending on your own personal history with anger, this might have you feeling nervous, fearful, or insecure about your abilities. 
It's ok.  You've got this. 
We're going to work together and I am going to show you how.
Still with me? 

This has been a long one and I thank you for sticking with me.
Don't miss out on what comes next: when I talk about working with managing the anger in your little ones. 
Make sure to sign up for the email list at the top right hand corner of this entry so you can receive the next post on this topic right in your inbox.
Thank you for starting this journey with me.
Until next time,

1 comment:

  1. I like how you layed this whole topic out. It made great sense and it was easy to follow.
    thank you. Frieda