Sadly, many parents respond angrily to their children's behavior, take out their anger on their children, or act out angrily in front of them. Most of us know this is not the right way to respond. Although parenting may be our most challenging relationship, there is never an adequate reason for allowing anger to enter into it. However, anger aimed at children remains a serious problem in our society.
How we deal with our problems sets an example for our children. Unfortunately, many parents become the models for anger, unintentionally passing such behavior on to their children. When this is the case, as the child develops he or she tends to respond with anger both internally and behaviorally.
TEACH YOUR CHILD LOVE, NOT ANGER
We use anger in disciplining our children because we become upset by what they do, and we then become angry. We then tend to mix our anger in with the lessons we are trying to teach the child. But when we mix the "lesson" with our anger, we end up teaching our child that it's okay to respond with anger to things that upset us. When we respond with anger, the child learns anger. As parents we often don't even realize that we are using anger. So the first step in dealing with your anger as a parent is to become aware of how you feel when you relate to your children.
When we respond out of love, the child learns love. If we are free of anger, we teach our children love, not anger. We give them a life of warm fuzzys. Just knowing that we can raise our child without anger should be reason enough for us to put forth the effort to get rid of our own anger.
Learn to talk about feelings with your children. Find out what upsets them and why. Find out why they feel the way they do. Work with them to solve their problems and to release their anger. Even though their friends display anger, they can learn from you that they don't need to use it themselves. Teach them that they can be far more effective, and accomplish more as a person, if they are not controlled by anger.
Teach your values and rules to your children, but allow them to make decisions for themselves. Teach them to think; don't just tell them what to do. Accept their mistakes as an indication of what lessons they still need to learn. When your children become adults, release them from your control completely. Respect them for who they have become, and tell them so. Your children are obligated to follow the general rules of our society, but they are not obligated to observe them in the exact way you do. They are also not obligated to accept and follow the family rules they grew up with. Respect and accept their choices.
It is our job as parents to teach our children how the world works. They acquire most of their belief system from us. Learn how to deal with anger so you can teach your children how to be free from it as well.
PERMISSIVENESS AND ASSERTIVENESS
Parenting without anger doesn't mean you don't have to discipline your children. You can, however, discipline them with love instead of anger. Children need to learn boundaries. They must learn the rules of our society. Teach them these things with love. Permissiveness is not love. And assertiveness is not anger. Model love for them, and they will see the value in not being angry. Remember your child needs values, your time, and love, not things. Worthwhile values are imparted when you parent with love. The reward for this style of parenting is a happy and independent child with whom you will have a loving relationship for the rest of your life. Always remember to treat your children with love.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
Never accept anger from your child as appropriate behavior. Children learn to use anger when it is effective for them. They will keep using it as long as it works. Part of our job, as a parent, is to not allow anger to be effective for our children. It is our job to show them a more effective way to deal with their problems. Whenever your child is angry, lovingly demonstrate to him or her that it is not appropriate behavior. Teach your child to find a more effective way of dealing with problems. As soon as your child is old enough to communicate verbally, teach them about expressing and dealing with their feelings.
Families often focus on telling their children what to think and do. Learn to talk about the feelings, and always point out the reasons for your rules and decisions, taking into account the child's feelings and the positive side of what you're asking of them. We use "don't" with our children far too often. Always try to find out from your child why they want to do something. Consider their request, and then lovingly explain why it is not possible when it isn't.
Once you have taught your child inappropriate behavior, it can become very difficult to help the child learn a new and appropriate way of responding. When faced with a problem in relating to your child, there are two important rules to keep in mind. First, always respond out of love. Second, when you are unsure of the answer, spend some time and effort learning what you should do.
I know a couple of special children who were raised without being taught to be fearful. They were raised with love. They were not taught to be fearful in disturbing situations. They believed that they could solve any problem. They learned total acceptance -- acceptance of themselves and others, and acceptance of the goodness of the world. They learned to trust and love the world. They learned to operate from a positive emotion of love. They learned to respond from their thinking center rather than from their negative emotions. They are problem solvers. They do not feel themselves to be fearful in situations that would call forth the negative emotions of fear and anger in most others. They pretty much see the world as a loving world. They don't fear the world. To have such an outlook on life is the greatest gift a parent can give to their children.
If you raise your child in this way, you will be giving them this gift -- and it will reward them richly for the rest of their lives.
List Your Child's Angry Responses...and Create a Plan to Get Rid of Them
Make a list of your child's anger responses. If he or she is old enough to understand, find out from them what upsets them. Now make and carry out a plan to remove the cold pricklys from your child's life.
Commit to Never Being Angry with Your Child
Make a commitment to yourself to work at never being angry with your children. This commitment is based on the principle that getting angry with a child is never the acceptable response. Any time you find yourself angry with your children, commit yourself to finding the reason and changing your way of responding so that it will not happen again.
Also, make a commitment that you will not display angry behavior in front of your child. If you find you still must act out some anger, commit yourself to doing it where your children can't see you.
Time-Out -- For YOU As Well As Your Child
When either of you is upset, use a time-out to allow emotions to cool off. This goes for you as well as your child. Especially use time-outs when you are both angry. Use the time-out procedure to get yourself out of your feeling center and back into your thinking center. When you are able to deal with the issue without anger, return to it and deal with it in an appropriate way.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
DeVorss & Company. ©2003. www.devorss.com
This article was excerpted from:
Life Without Anger: Your Guide to Peaceful Living
by Dean Van Leuven.
After years as an attorney, during which time he observed anger on multiple levels, author Dean Van Leuven grew frustrated not only by his own personal anger, but also by how the anger of other people affected him. In search of a permanent solution for himself, he developed a far-reaching process that eliminated anger from his life once and for all. LIFE WITHOUT ANGER: Your Guide to Peaceful Living, helps readers to break the cycle of stress, anger and depression so that they can experience the true joy of life despite the setbacks. There’s no coping or managing here. As inconceivable as it might sound, it is possible to never experience anger regardless of the circumstances you come up against.
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About the Author
Dean Van Leuven is an international speaker who regularly conducts seminars, lectures and workshops in learning to live without anger and related quality of life issues. This book is based on the materials that he presents at those events. For an up-to-date schedule of Dean's Life Without Anger events, refer to his web site www.lifewithoutanger.com. Dean Van Leuven is an international speaker who regularly conducts seminars, lectures and workshops in learning to live without anger and related quality of life issues. This book is based on the materials that he presents at those events. For an up-to-date schedule of Dean's Life Without Anger events, refer to his web site www.lifewithoutanger.com. He also presents training programs. See WorldEmotionalLiteracy.org for more info.