As parents, it is our responsibility to help our children develop into healthy, adjusted, successful, mature people. In order for our children to be successful in life, they have to develop emotional maturity, and learn how to deal with anger. How do we teach our children to deal with anger?
All of us, occasionally, have to face situations that cause us to be angry. It is not always an easy task for us, the adults, to handle. As good parents, we want to equip our child with the skills to handle anger in a positive way. Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you face this task.
Our children learn many of their social behaviors by watching us. Remember that you are your child's role model! Remember to show a good example to your child, and deal with anger in a mature, responsible and positive way. Talk this over with your partner. It is a good idea to come to some sort of agreement on how to deal with anger and what message you want to send to your child regarding positive ways to do that. The whole task will be easier if you support each other.
Dealing with anger has a lot to do with controlling our body. We all may feel anger in different ways, but many people report of a feeling of "all my blood went into my head", and "flying off the handle" - basically simply losing control of your body. There are simple and fun games that will teach your child to control his body. For example, the game of "Simon Says". You can play this in a group, or alone with your child. You shout out 'directives' like, "Put your hands on your head," or "Jump forward," but only if you say "Simon Says" before the directive, should the child act upon the directive. This teaches the child to listen, and act only when certain conditions are present.
Another version of this game, which is appropriate for younger children, is "Red Light - Green Light". This is a good lesson. Create two big signs out of cardboard. Ideally they should resemble traffic lights, one should be green and the other is red. The child (or children, if there is a group) can move forward when you hold up the green "light", and stop instantly when you hold up the red "light". Alternatively, one of the kids could get the job of holding up the green or the red "lights".
When you are angry, and you are ready to take undesirable action, one step you need to take in order to control yourself, is taking a deep breath. If you hold your child, you get to their eye level, and take a deep breath, your child will follow you by taking a deep breath. At this moment, he will gain control over his body. Another trick you can try, is to blow gently at your child's face. This causes an automatic reaction of taking a breath, and will help your child gain control over himself. Another thing you can try, is taking a sip of water. The water should be at room temperature. This will help your child to calm down and gain control over his body and his emotions.
It is difficult to work things out while one is feeling raging anger. Give your child the time he needs to calm down, before trying to discuss the reason for his anger and to working things out.
One of the most important skills in life has to do with understanding the other person's point of view. This skill is very valuable - it helps in many other areas of life too. Without it, it is hard to feel compassion, to work out any differences of opinion, and it even helps with sales and success in business. In short, it is at the basis of good "people skills". You can help your child develop this skill. When discussing the incident that caused the anger, bring up the "other side's" point of view. If another child is involved, when you discuss the matter with your child, encourage him to think about the other child's feelings. Ask questions like "How do you think does he feel?", "What do you think did he think about the matter?" or "What did he want?" By asking these questions you help your child look and try to understand the other child and his point of view.
Then you can help your child work things out. If another child is involved, you can give your child some suggestions of how to work things out, and then bring the other child together with your child, so that they can discuss the matter and work things out with each other. Try to control the situation, and make sure things don't flare up again. Sometimes, after revisiting things, your child will come to the conclusion that he did someone wrong. Help him realize that it is appropriate at times to apologize to another person. It is appropriate sometimes to admit that he was wrong.
Many people learn over the years to suppress their anger. Suppressing anger can lead to physical or mental illness. Don't admonish your child for feeling anger. Let your child feel his emotions, and then deal with them in a positive way, by taking the time to calm down, and then work things out through discussion and dialog.
In conclusion, I would like to write about a funny incident that happened to my daughter Tammy when she was about 3. Tammy came home one day from her day care, upset. She told me that she was punished unfairly at day care. Mommy lion (me) was outraged, and hurried to day care the next day, to ask the teacher for an explanation. The teacher told me that Tammy beat up this other child, Ahron. She said that they usually do not interfere very fast, they let the children work out their differences first, but in this case, my little Tammy (who was a very small child, and at age 3 was the size of an average 1 year old) was sitting on top of this child, and beating him up furiously. She did not stop even after the teacher had told her to stop, and they actually had to pick her up and put her in the other room.
It was hard for me to believe this about my usually very friendly and cheerful daughter, whom I have never seen being violent before, so I asked to see the child who was beaten up, and they went to call him. In came this huge boy, who weighed at least 5 times Tammy's weight. Amused, I asked him what happened, and he told us that he called Tammy a name. Tammy didn't like it, and she asked him to stop it. Since he repeated the name a second time, Tammy asked him to stop it, and warned him that if he called her that name the third time, she will be forced to resort to violence. Since he called her that name the third time, she realized her warning and beat him up. Ahron thought that it was completely fair that Tammy beat him up, and actually expressed his opinion that Tammy was punished unfairly, since she gave him fair warning.
On the way home, Tammy and I had discussed the issue of violence, and why we don't need to resort to violence to solve our differences, and she agreed with me, but still thought that she was just in her actions, since she warned Ahron 3 times. And I had to smile about dear Ahron, who let Tammy beat him up, just because he thought that she was entitled to it, since she warned him 3 times.