When it comes to anger, there are three paths we can take:
- Aggression: This is where we believe our feelings trump the rights of others, and at its extreme end result in emotionally or physically abusive behavior.
- Perfection: On the opposite end of the spectrum, some of us get the message that we don’t have a right to our feelings of anger. We believe that we shouldn’t feel anger, and if we do that we should hide it. This can lead to turning anger inward, which can result in depression, or passive aggressive behavior.
- Healthy Expression: What we want to learn and model for our children is a healthy expression of anger. When we do this, we believe our feelings are valid, but so are the rights of others.
How do we do this? We teach our children to be assertive, not aggressive. When we are assertive we do not deny our own feelings (although we may choose to pick our battles, which is healthy). When we are assertive we keep the focus on problem-solving, not personal attacks.
Walk your child through the consequences of their behavior. Is their tactic likely to solve their problem or will it damage relationships, violate their integrity, or result in disciplinary action.
Figuring out how to get what we need and want is hard. Most of us weren’t taught how to do this, but we can help our kids find a space of assertiveness for themselves.
This article was developed primarily based on the work of Signe Whitson, L.S.W. Click here for more detail on this topic: