Helping Kids Deal with Anger
Updated: Aug 25, 2019
Life has thrown me some massive curve balls over the last couple of years, and one of the unwelcome feelings that has come along with those hurdles is a whole lot of anger.
I have a big problem with anger. I don't mean that I have a problem being too angry all the time or screaming at people. What I mean is that I have a big problem letting myself be angry. One big realization that has come my way through all this is that if I can't justify or explain my anger, I simply don't allow myself to feel it at all. If someone or something pisses me off, I have to rationalize my anger if I'm going to do anything about it. Otherwise, I just turn that anger around on myself and beat myself up until I'm not angry anymore (or at least I'm unaware of how angry I am). Super healthy, eh?
Well that's all turning around now. I am realizing the profound toxicity of un-resolved anger. I am learning that emotions (including anger) don't need a reason but they do need permission to exist. So, I am learning to express my anger without judgement or justification...and it's inspired me to look at the anger my kids have in new ways.
When my kids got angry, my unchecked response used to be 3 things:
1) Annoyance - Come on! This is not that big of a deal!
2) Embarrassment - Dude! That is NOT how we behave in this family!
3) Guilt - What have I done to create a child who reacts to life this way?
I realize now, having a model of allowing anger to pass through, learning that anger is a valid emotion and doesn't need repression, and understanding how to express anger in a healthy way would have been some great skills for me to have learned about 35 years ago. The cool thing is that I can give that to my kids now, whether or not I had it then.
The truth is that not wanting to feel something doesn't make that feeling go away. Our kids will get angry, just like they will experience all emotions, so let's shepherd them through that experience instead of trying to avoid it.
My best tips:
1) Avoid trying to stop or negatively react to your child's anger. Accept it calmly and show that it is a normal feeling.
2) Keep good boundaries. Anger is normal, but hitting, hateful talk, etc. are still unacceptable.
3) Model healthy responses to your anger, and the anger of other people. Talk about it when you feel angry (without blame or playing the victim). Explain your feelings and how you are going to let them pass through you.
4) Help your child learn how to feel and deal with his/her anger. Give words and suggestions and lots and lots of love.
I'll be talking about anger all week in the Mom-Me Experience group and I hope you'll tune in for some great coaching about it. In the meantime, I encourage you to check out something new: 6 months of group coaching with kick-ass moms just like you. It's my group program, TRIBE and it will change your life for less than you'd pay for a parenting class, therapist, marriage counselor or home organizer! You can learn more about it here, and if you want help deciding if it's right for you, just email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let's talk! Thanks for reading, mama!