Monday, April 2, 2012

Helping Kids Through Anger: Modeling

What's the most important part of helping our kids know how to process anger and frustration constructively?  Modeling constructive approaches to our own anger and frustration.

Waaaay easier said than done.  Watch how easy it is to say:

If you don't want them to get all out-of-control-angry when you confront them, then don't get angry when they confront you.  If you don't want them to lash out when they get frustrated, then don't lash out when you get frustrated.

See?  That's simple, right?  Only it's not.  Because kids are really good at finding buttons and pressing the hell out of them.  There's not a lot of substance to this post because it really is just a matter of doing it even though just doing it is really hard.

The message is just that, as hard as it may be to do it, controlling our own tempers is the most important single tool we as parents have in our ongoing quest to help our kids learn to control theirs.  This goes beyond remaining nonviolent.  It requires that we pay attention to our postures, facial expressions, our words, and our tone and volume.

So how are we actually supposed to accomplish this?  Sometimes, I just sort of visualize myself like the old, wise master in a kung fu movie.  More reliable, however, is a mindful attempt to utilize our own constructive coping skills.  Also, take deep breaths and count to 10 if you have to.  Finally, always remember that, if and when you're just not sure you're going to be able to control your temper, it's better to walk away than risk harming your child.

As always, I'm curious what you think.  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.