There are two things you should keep in mind about anger when reading this post: 1. Anger is a way of thinking, 2. Anger is an emotional response. Anger has a purpose, it lets us know that something is happening and we want it to change. Simple. All we must do is regulate the beliefs/thoughts that are fueling the anger to have an adequate response to make a change happen. Not so simple.
The way you communicate anger and your reaction to anger influences your relationship with your child. Many parents are great at encouraging their children, some are good at comforting their children, few are adequate at correcting their children. When your child is uncooperative, stubborn, or disrespectful, and anger is being the wind beneath your wings, that is a critical opportunity to embrace correction AND empathy (because something is happening and it needs to change- Invest the anger!).
Let’s look at some guidelines:
• Remember that all conflict has a beginning, a middle, and an end. This too shall pass! (unless Gandalf is there, then you’re stuck)
• Misbehaviors have goals: power, attention, revenge, or inadequacy (maybe I’ll cover them in a future post).
• Empathy: I like the explanation by Brené Brown on the matter. You have to connect to something within yourself (the part that knows what it feels like to feel like the other person), take the other person’s perspective as their truth/reality (and yes, your child is a person), and you don’t have to fix how they feel but you can acknowledge it.
• You might feel angry when: there is a power/control struggle, there’s disrespect, or you’re triggered by insecurity/sense of being ineffective.
The framework (Beware: you will have to repeat yourself):
• Acknowledge intent/feeling/goal/meaning of your child’s behavior
• Set the limit
• Indicate consequences by listing choices or alternatives
Keep the desired choice at the end of your statement because young minds tend to focus on the last thing they heard. I know there are plenty of books, podcasts, social media posts, and friends’ advice guiding your parenting. But here is what I want to contribute to you, because I’m for you:
• On YouTube, watch the 2 min animation of how Brené Brown explains empathy. It will rescue you.
• Not every moment is a teachable moment and you will get it wrong. Cut the kid some slack and cut yourself some slack. Learn from it!
• Talk to your child’s therapist, they have a degree in listening (but it did not come with a magic wand). You can work together and figure out what works for your family dynamics.
Thanks for taking the time in reading this post. I hope this helps!