Anger isn't a bad thing. The trick is how you express it.
One of the hardest parts of parenting is when your children get angry.
They squabble and raise their voices, sometimes at their siblings and sometimes at you. It's a natural part of life.
The problem is when our kids use anger to get through the trying moments of their everyday lives, instead of more productive methods.
Our first instinct can often be to use phrases such as "stop crying" or "this is not a big deal".
While those phrases might seem innocent enough — it might even be what your parents used to calm you down — these admonishments can actually teach your child to stifle their anger.
The thing is, their anger is nothing to be ashamed about.
There is nothing wrong with anger. After all, anger is an emotion — one that can motivate us to fight and to win!
According to a report on helping children deal with anger, by ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Elementary Education, a fundamental part of raising healthy kids is teaching them to express anger in a healthy way.
"A major challenge for early childhood teachers is to encourage children to acknowledge angry feelings and to help them learn to express anger in positive and effective ways," the report explains.
That's why it's important to teach these skills to our kids early on.
And ourselves, of course!
If you're unsure how, you're not alone.
It's a guide that you can use not only for your kids, but to help yourself calm down as well!
Here's how to do it:
Step 1: Take the pot off of the stove.
Call it an exit plan.
What that means is you need to remove your child from whatever situation it is that they are unable to handle ... or remove the situation for them.
This means one of two things should happen:
1. Someone exits the room
2. You help the object to exit the room.
By leaving the room or taking away the toy your child (or children) are fighting about, you are stopping the fight before it gets to the point where someone gets hurt.
It's important to make sure that you discuss this first. Explain (preferably during a calm moment when there is no fighting going on) that this family uses "exits" when someone gets angry.
That way if you need to have them exit the room or take their toy away, they won't feel punished or banished.
It's important that they don't think their feelings are a problem.
Step 2: Have a meeting at the peace table.
Sometimes it can be a simple as having snack time. Often children fight because they are tired or hungry and eating food can take that need to fight out of them.
If not, a "peace table" serves as a central and safe place where they can express (calmly and without judgment) what they are feeling and talk constructively about how to resolve it.
It teaches your child that it's ok if something bothers them and to express that in a positive way.
Step 3: End with a love fest.
This is the most important step. You don't want to end a fight with residual negativity.
Instead, give hugs! Hugs are free and releases oxytocin (which is what helps form attachment in relationships) as well as reduce stress.
Not only will everyone be much calmer after hugging but it will help to encourage your children to try for cooperation in the future instead of antagonism which can lead to fewer fights and more "peace table" talks.
Doesn't that sound nice?
You can learn even more by watching the video with Dr. Heitler at the top of this article, too!
If you want more information on how you can confront feelings of anger, depression, and anxiety (without medication), you can contact Dr. Susan Heitler at her website, PrescriptionswithoutPills.com. She’s here to help!