I never learned appropriate methods of dealing with anger. I have spent my life bottling it up until I can’t take it anymore, and then lashing out with the fury of five scorned women. I realize that’s what I do, and I don’t like it, and I am continually searching for better ways to deal with anger. Especially in my relationship with my ever-patient Kullervo, I try on new tactics for better (taking a break to cool down and get perspective) or for worse (calling him names* and being bitterly sarcastic).
I want to do better for my kids. I am sure that there are good strategies out there for dealing with anger, and I want to teach my kids appropriate mechanisms. Oliver has gotten to an age where he is testing boundaries and trying to assert his independence. This results in a lot of anger, which, in my opinion at least, is totally normal and a good time to teach him good ways to deal with those feelings. The big problem with this awesome parenting that I’m going to be doing is… I have no idea what to tell him.
I decided to get some advice. The first person I turned to was my mother. Sure, I don’t have good strategies for dealing with anger, but I was a stubborn child and maybe I just never learned them. I mentioned that Oliver has started getting angry a lot about stuff, and her response was that he doesn’t get anger from our side of the family, because we aren’t angry people.
And I’ve looked in magazines and online, and it seems like nobody is talking about how to help your kids deal with anger. I know what I’m supposed to do when my kid throws a tantrum. I’ve read about things to do to help prevent tantrums.
Maybe nobody knows. I mean, anger is pretty darned powerful, and nobody seems to want to admit to having it. And it’s all well and good to prevent anger as much as possible, but the fact is, we all get angry. Multiple times a day, even!
The things that I do now with Oliver include the following:
1. We talk about how he’s feeling, and put a name on the feeling. (Anger, frustration, fear, feeling overwhelmed, etc)
2. We talk about what NOT to do–we don’t hurt ourselves or other people, and we shouldn’t break anyone’s stuff, including our own, because we’ll regret it later.
3. We talk about what to do next time.
The problem is, when I get to number 3, I wind up telling him to do things that are unrealistic when he’s angry. I mean, how likely is it that anyone who is really mad is going to have the presence of mind to stop and ask for a pillow to punch? Seriously.
So, I’m on a quest to find good ways to deal with anger. We talk about talking it out and using words and stuff, but when you’re mad, you still have all these feelings and you feel like you need to lash out. What do you do with all that energy?
Someone help me!
*In my defense, sometimes I call people funny names when I’m mad and it deflates the whole situation. However, this is unusual.