What can we do as parents to help our children improve their ability to manage anger? We are often perplexed and sometimes devastated when our children begin to behave in unpredictable and unreasonable ways. Sometimes we feel frightened and may feel powerless in our role as caretakers. We may become self critical which only tends to complicate matters. It may seem as if we have no control regarding our children's behavior and we may even begin to lack optimism regarding our children’s future.
Most of us understand that to get along in this world we need to develop more than a degree of self control. If our children are to be happy, well adjusted adults, they need to develop good social judgment and learn to relate to others productively. In every area of our lives we are likely to experience at least some frustration. Even the most well intended people will irritate us from time to time. Things will go wrong. Even Murphy’s Law reminds us that,” Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. Of course we don't want to take this statement too seriously, but the humor may be helpful as we struggle to adjust when things are not going well. The most successful individuals are those who have developed the ability to tolerate frustration and can control their impulse to react when frustrated and angry.
How do things such as self esteem, self acceptance, and self confidence, impact our ability to regulate our internal experience and impact our ability to control our emotional expression? Do self esteem, confidence, and self acceptance play a role in our ability to manage anger effectively, and what are the root causes of our inability to manage anger effectively? We often speak about triggers for anger and it might be helpful to learn what these triggers are both for ourselves and our children. Anger itself may be the result of repeated frustration, expectations that others have for us, and expectations that we generate within ourselves which we are unable to meet. Often as we compare ourselves to others or develop a belief that we should have what others have we may be planting the seeds of unhappiness.
In my own life, I try to remind myself daily of how important it is not to be emotionally reactive. Inhibiting the impulse to react does not mean that we are attempting to repress or deny our own emotional experience. It is my belief that emotions are our guides and have been given to us by nature to help us get along in the world. If we ourselves or our children are experiencing any emotion excessively, this could alert us that we may be denying a different emotion or are generating the emotion with our own thoughts or negative thinking. As one of my teachers once said to me, “Some emotions are generated by life experiences and some emotions are generated by our own thoughts”. When the gift of emotion is used effectively it can help us live more effectively, be safe, and be better able to understand our own personal needs. In addition it is our own emotional experience that helps us develop a greater understanding and compassion for others.
As parents is important that we understand that learning to develop some degree of frustration tolerance is an essential skill for our children to develop. As we ourselves develop the ability to tolerate our own frustration and relate productively to the world around us we become positive models for our children. As we acknowledge our own strength and develop greater compassion for others we are also helping our children to relate more productively to others.
By Donald Recupido