We had a very interesting discussion last night at the parenting class about anger. We were all in agreement that anger was an emotion that was just as valid to express as any other. It’s just not all that comfortable for us to express or be in the presence of as most of us were brought up being told not to be mad. We grew up believing that anger was “bad”.
Now we are teaching our children that anger is okay and needs to be expressed. Anger, as one parent pointed out, was there to tell us that something was not right and that this something needs attention. This is just the same as anxiety; it’s there so that we know how to react if we see a speeding car coming toward us as we are crossing the road. But there is a useful anger and there is a useless anger and we need to teach our children the difference and what to do in the presence of the useless anger.
The anger that is useful is the anger that pushes us forward to do something about the circumstance that is causing the anger. It fuels us, gives us energy and helps us move forward. When anger turns to rage, then it is useless. It does not allow us to get to any kind of resolution about the issue at hand. In a child, this shows up as a tantrum. When the child is enraged there is not much that can be done other than to let them weather the storm.
Generally, the child gets scared when his/her anger gets this big. The child does not like this out-of-control feeling. After the storm you can talk about what happened and about what the child was feeling. Use this as an opportunity to teach about useless anger and that when we are experiencing useless anger, we need to go take care of ourselves; walk away, cool off and then go back to the issue when the raging storm has passed. Rage can be very hurtful to others as well as ourselves. This is when we are operating on pure animal instinct – in full fight mode. We need to vent this rage in a safe place and appropriate way.
What are your thoughts? How do you deal with the useless anger at your home?