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.

1 comment:

  1. I use the loosing my cool moments as teachable to show my son how to come down out of the anger. When I am really mad I tell him mommy needs a time out so I don't say something mean or hit someone. That's what a time out is, it's an opportunity to collect your emotions when you are mad because no, it isn't easy. Best to do it in your own room so you can hit pillows if you need to. We don't want to teach him that his emotions are bad, we want to teach him it's what you do about the emotions that matter. And yeah, modeling it critical.

    My son was mad at my husband yesterday over something egregious but silly. Can't remember now what it was. Anyway, he went to his bedroom without being prompted to cry and scream and vent. Which he did. I eventually went in to check on him and help him find humor in his situation because it was a really silly thing to get that upset about. The next morning, he apologized to dad for getting mad at him. He did this on his own without being asked because, that's just what you do when you loose your cool over something silly and again, we've modeled that for him, it's not something I taught him explicitly. It's bound to happen that we are going to lose our cool and get angry. Just don't take your frustration out on others.