Most of us grew up in an era of repression. Negative feelings were to be controlled, ignored or removed. It’s no wonder that we are the generation of Prozac. There is only so long that you can repress an emotion before it fights its way to the surface again. Drugs help us to repress without the fight. What they don’t help us to do is to understand and process our emotions.
And if we don’t know how to do that, how on earth are we going to help our angry kids? As life would have it, if you are repressing a lot of emotion, it is very likely that you will have a child who expresses it.
So the first step to helping an angry child is to understand the angry adult.
Anger is a gift. It is a message from your unconscious mind that something in your life needs to be addressed. You can group these messages into two categories:
The first is that you are expecting yourself, other people (perhaps your kids or spouse) or life itself to be one-sided. You want yourself to be always kind without being cruel. You want your kids to always be cooperative and never disobedient. You want your partner to be always attentive and never distracted. You want life to be always supportive and never challenging. In this case your anger is there to help you to be whole — to see that everyone (including you) has all traits and that all are a necessary part of being human. Both support and challenge are necessary for you to grow and evolve. When you can allow life to have two sides, the anger dissipates.
The second message that anger may be trying to convey is that you are expecting yourself to do things that are not really important to you. Or, you are expecting other people to do things that are not really important to them (although they may be important to you!). In other words, not allowing yourself to be true to who you are or others to be true to themselves. In this case, anger is there to help you to get back on track — to walk your path, to live your purpose, to express the truth of who you are, and to allow others to do the same.
There are a few basic steps that you can use as an adult, and that your child can use too, in order to figure out what the message is that the anger is trying to convey to you and to process it and move on:
- * Allow the emotion. There is no point trying to pretend that you are not angry, to get rid of the anger or to try to calm down. This does not mean lashing out at others, but taking the time to feel your own emotion. What does it feel like? Does it feel tight or explosive? Is it an upward movement or an outward movement? Where do you feel it? In your chest? Your heart? Your head?
- * Find healthy forms of expression. If you or your child feel that you cannot feel the emotion without lashing out, find a healthy way to explode. You could punch a punching bag, take a hammer to a coconut, run round the block, beat a pillow, scream at the moon. Brainstorm some ideas that would work for you. Once the excess energy is released, then return to feeling the feeling.
- * Ask the question: What is my anger trying to tell me? Am I expecting myself to be one-sided? Am I expecting someone else to be one-sided? Am I expecting life to be only supportive and never challenging? Have I gone off my path? Am I not being true to myself? Am I expecting someone else to live according to my highest priorities and not their own?
- * Make changes. Once you can see what your anger is trying to tell you, then make the necessary changes.
- * Be grateful. Say thank you to your anger for bringing you back on track and invite it to come again and help you to live your life to your highest potential.
Anger is not something that we need to get rid of — not in ourselves or in our children. It is an essential aspect of our lives and helps us to be the best that we can be. Welcome your anger, welcome your child’s anger, and as a welcomed guest it will teach you how to live your life to the max!
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