Jennifer Lehr: Helping Angry Children Deal & "Dealing" With Angry Children

I don't have kids of my own, but as an educator and citizen, I often learn a lot from parents in their journeys to nurture healthy, happy, compassionate, conscientious children. (One of my favorite books is How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk -- and, of course, Above All, Be Kind.) So, I was happy to recently discover Jennifer Lehr's blog, "Good Job!" And Other Things You Shouldn't Say or Do (unless you want to ruin your kid's life). I love how she strives for compassionate, mindful communication with her children, seeking their underlying needs and striving to find positive solutions (much like humane education).

In a recent post, Jennifer explores angry children "saying and doing things that in turn anger their parents which in turn 'makes' their parents say and do things that further anger or alienate their children in their well-intentioned effort to show them that they will not tolerate rude behavior."

Here are a couple sample excerpts:

"... children aren’t born knowing how to deal with anger. And once they do start to learn, they need practice. In a safe environment. And they need parents who model it beautifully day in and day out."

"... Unfortunately, adults getting mad at children because of the way they’ve expressed their anger is more of a distraction than anything. It takes the attention away from the reason their child is upset and focuses on how they are showing their upset. It convolutes the situation and often the original upset never gets the time of day. It just festers. Your child never gets heard or understood. They don’t get an empathetic ear, they get punished. And they feel badly about themselves. They feel wrong. And rude. And bad. And angrier! Because usually the way parents deal with a child’s “inappropriate” way of showing their anger is not only distracting and not helpful, but it’s also wounding."

"... The message that threatening, yelling, isolating, hitting and abandoning gives is this: You are only loveable when you are behaving properly. If you can’t control yourself, I will treat you poorly, often equally as poorly as you are treating me or worse."

Read the complete post.

Although Jennifer's wise words are for parents in engaging with their children, they're also a great reminder for us in how we engage with other adults -- and how we deal with our own anger.

~ Marsha

Image courtesy of hyperorbit.

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