How to Express Anger Constructively to our Child
All close relationships cause friction and in modern parent-children relationships, most parents have a problem with displaying their own anger with their child.
Anger is sometimes necessary to get our child’s attention when we are giving a directive.
Being angry upfront is important in pareting as it gives us a chance to show our child how to express anger constructively. In the book ‘Take Back Your Kids’ by William J. Doherty, Ph.D, he states that if our children never see us express anger, from whom will they learn how to express their angry feelings in constructive ways? They need to learn that anger is a natural emotion, that it serves a natural purpose without hurting anyone, and that it goes away.
What happens if we do not express our anger directly to our child in constructive ways? We either end up being sarcastic towards them, withdraw our attention, avoid spending time with our child, or complain about our own child (sometimes, infront of them).
How do we express anger constructively? We have to understand that anger is like gasoline to a car. While it is necessary in a parent-child relationship, it can also be dangerous and explosive.
We, as parents, have greater physical and psychological power than our child, and we have a moral responsibility to use this power wisely. Here are a few guidleines from the book ‘Take Your Kids Back ‘: 1. Make eye contact with your child. Doing this will keep you focus on your child and you will see her/his response right away. 2. Make sure your words and non-verbal behavior are consistent. 3. Never call your child names. Name-calling does not change your child’s behavior and may result to long term negative consequences,if your child takes to heart the negative label. 4. Speak personally, using the ‘I’ expressions. The anger of the moment is yours and not somebody else’s and the child needs to know this. 5. Do not expect your child to immediately apologize or say much at all. Avoid angrily asking,”Why did you do that?”, because often children don’t know why they misbehave, or even if they know, they won’t tell us. Just expect behavioral compliance at that moment. 6. If an angry situation is upsetting you or your child, talk about it later when everyone is calm. If your anger was disrespectful or excessive, then do apologize for the element of it; the point is to learn from what happend and to avoid the need for these confrontations in the future.
I am almost certain that as a parent, you have tried many different ways of being angry when your patience was tried – how did you respond? Was the effect positive or negative? Feel that positive effect, remember the process. What did you do that gave you that positive effect?