Dealing with your child’s anger

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I heard the door slam shut followed by the noise of glass shattering to the ground. It was my son. Frustrated, fed up and angry for reasons that were ‘significant’ to him, he had gone into the bathroom and slammed the door leaving the mirror in a million broken pieces all over the floor.

I was mad. How dare he? What kind of anger will make him break my mirror. Despite my anger, all I could think of was ‘hope he is okay’.

I was quiet but also angry and disappointed. I didn’t raised a hooligan. I took a deep breathe and walked into the bathroom to survey the damage. Standing there I started thinking of all the possible character that was developing. An angry child, a bully, an entitled child who would grow up to be a pain to those close to him when he doesn’t get what he wants. A rebel. A…

But then I heard his cry through his bedroom door. He was hurting too. I am guessing this was not what he expected either. Hello, Anger – I don’t remember inviting you into my house. I walked gently into his room, this time my anger had softened a bit. In his face I could see he was scared, ashamed and worried all at the same time. I took a deep breathe and took my focus away from my anger about his developing character and my broken mirror and focused on this child. My heart kept saying, this little boy is a combination of emotions right now and he needs you. He needs your very best. Your most gentle and firm mother love and reassurance. Just then he looked up at me with tears in his eyes he said ‘I am sorry mum, I promise I will never do it again’. I moved gently to him and gave him a big hug. I showed compassion. I heard myself say softly to him, you were angry and that’s what anger does. Anger takes control of your senses and you do things you would normally not do. You have a right to be angry for whatever your reasons but you also need to understand that anger burns and destroys things. There are better ways to show your big feelings. Still sobbing, he nods as if to acknowledge that he understood what I was saying. Today he has met anger and today he has seen the damage it can cause.

I held him tight and reassured him that he was safe and that I still love him. And that he was never alone in his anger or his fears. After he calmed down, we got up together and cleaned up the mess he made.

Sometimes things break. Sometimes we break them. It’s not the breaking that matters, the how or why. What matters is how we choose to respond to the broken-ness. Does it kill us? Does it throw us into a downward spiral of blame and punishment? OR Does it help us remember how to love deepest?

Our children do not understand emotions like we do and when your child meets anger for the first time be compassionate enough to teach them about anger and how best to deal with it. Don’t be so quick to pull out the cane or look for punishment for them otherwise you will only be reinforcing the fact that you are also angry and the best way to deal with it is to lash out too. Guess what will happen the next time they get angry? Your guess is as good as mine.

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