What Every Parent With An Angry Child Needs To Know
By Britta Marsh on 5 Jun 2018
This post was written by ParentTV Expert Dr. Vanessa Lapointe
On a recent school day, my son and I walked through the door with the usual routine in front of us – put away your backpack, lunch-bag, and jacket. It also happened that our dogs had a poo-tastrophe on the floor while we were out so I asked him to take care of cleaning that up. And…BOOM! The mother of all meltdowns!
Sound familiar? As parents we can have many emotions rise up in us in the face of our angry children – worry, shame, and even anger back at them. Importantly, these emotions have nothing to do with the right or wrong of our children’s anger, and everything to do with our own triggers – likely stemming back to our own childhood. With all of this discomfort in us, no wonder we rush to stamp out the anger. We shush them, raise our voice, and threaten consequences.
And yet, look around you at all of the people in your life. How many among them have honestly never experienced anger? I’ll tell you how many – ZERO. Since we know that nature wastes nothing, we can also then know that this universal presence of anger in us as human beings means that anger is a necessary force of life.
In Power vs. Force Dr. David R. Hawkins discusses emotions like shame, guilt, and apathy, which are the lowest levels of consciousness and keep us stuck. Anger has much more energy and is an emotion that actually moves us forward. This means that anger is full of potential – it literally beckons growth and development.
This development happens by way of adaptation (Dr. Gordon Neufeld) which is all about accepting what cannot be and flexing to that reality with new thoughts and actions. Practiced a zillion trillion times, adaptation allows children to grow into adults who are capable of managing their emotions.
Anger is core to adaptation. Only with the eruption of anger can children grow. The key is that anger must move in order to be part of healthy development. Neufeld talks about our key role as adults in moving a child from “mad to sad.” This can only happen when the adult has created a beautiful space between them and child that is full of soft invitation for anger to be released into.
This might sound like “You really just wanted to play didn’t you?” or “Cleaning up dog poo was not what you wanted right now! I know my love.” No reactive adult anger. No attempts to squash or stifle. Just a big, warm, embracing welcome for one of the most natural emotions a human could feel. And then hold onto whatever expectation inspired your child’s anger in the first place, if and when appropriate.
The bottom line is you don’t need to fix your child’s anger. Instead, create a big invitation for that anger to flow, and provide big understanding and compassion. With this, you grow a human. One who is being given a spectacular chance at being their best self.
Hello anger. Hello growth.