What about your anger; do you know how to stay calm in a crisis or emotional storm?
It can be really tough and exhausting when faced with an angry child. Sometimes anger is a cover up for softer feelings like anxiety and sadness.
Anger is such a powerful emotion, but it also can make people feel uncomfortable or afraid when expressed inappropriately. Parents often tell me they send their child away with their anger and leave them to deal with it by themselves or that they are afraid of their child when they are angry. I get it! However, isolating an angry child does not give them the tools to cope with their overwhelming feelings.
Knowing what to say and do in the moment is the key to helping your child when their feelings get too big.
What's the temperature on your family's emotional thermostat?
Anger also appears to be the one emotion which is frequently suppressed and comes out sideways
Perhaps you find yourself being sarcastic or letting things build up and then finding yourself angry at the slightest thing. Anger comes out sideways when it's held inside, unexpressed and can eventually make you ill. What lots of people don't realise is that anger is a mask for more vulnerable feelings: like fear and sadness.
In families where the emotional thermostat is broken, you will find:-
- children and parents who have full emotional backpacks (they are carrying lots of unexpressed feelings and they don't even realise).
- children and parents who feel unheard or misunderstood (feelings fester when they are not expressed).
- children and parents who don't have the tools to express their emotions (we don't learn this stuff at school).
- children and parents who don't trust each other and whose connection is weakened by emotionally charged situations.
- children who are punished for being angry which actually makes them more angry and doesn't help them understand their emotions (this is why I believe punishment doesn't work).
- children using anger as a way of connecting with you and getting your attention or using it as a way to create space because their boundaries are being overstepped.
- children who are hiding their anxiety and sadness underneath anger (I see this a lot in boys because society's unwritten rules can often mean that it's okay for boys to be angry (but not sad or vulnerable), but it's not okay for girls to be angry (that's not lady-like or attractive!).
We need to understand our emotions as they are messengers sent to help us navigate life
We cannot selectively numb emotions; if we numb anger, then we will eventually also numb joy and happiness. All emotions need to be healthily expressed and understood instead of labelled 'good and bad'.
Sometimes anger is an appropriate response to a situation and a warning which keeps us safe. Anger can also be channelled for good and for change. Some of us may have been brought up to believe that anger is ugly, scary or even rude. When we own our anger and feel it, it has a message for us.
An angry parent who is raging or shouting or out of control is very scary to a child. Equally an angry child who feels out of control can be scary for a parent.
We need to be connected to our emotions to understand ourselves and others
Children who grow up not having their feelings validated struggle to recognise and trust themselves. An important part of themselves (their emotional self) is denied, they may find themselves feeling disconnected, unfulfilled or empty. They may have difficulty trusting or relying upon others. Many describe feeling that they are different from other people; like something is wrong with them, but they’re not sure what it is.
So let's look at learning to deal with this together as a team. In this Smiley online learning pack, I will help you and your child with how to understand and learn to manage your anger in a healthy way.
What's inside this pack that can help our family understand our anger?
A video explaining my 10 Emotional Principles which will help you as a parent:
- to separate your child's feelings and behaviour so you can respond in the most supportive way.
- ensure your child grows up feeling connected to their emotions (their internal satnav to guide them through life and relationships with other people).
- understand your own anger and how that might play a part in your child's emotional regulation.
- validate your child's feelings and not take them personally (it's not about you!).
- change your reality and your perceptions around your child when emotions are running high which provides a win-win for everybody.
- deal with your child's meltdowns differently so you will have less power struggles and less drama (did I just hear you breathe a sigh of relief?!).
A one hour Calm Down Master Class for your child (but is also helpful for adults) and will help you help children:
- Understand their anger and what it means for them so they don't feel bad or ashamed of themselves.
- Know their angry triggers so they know what's coming and can be prepared.
- Change their perspective on their feelings and learn how to listen to them and use them to help them instead of fight against them.
- 10 Practical Tools for coping with their feelings (not just anger, this works for worries and sadness too).
- Learn the importance of daily emotional housekeeping so feelings don't build up and then explode out of nowhere.
- Learn to trust themselves and feel empowered to handle any feelings which come up for them.
An epic Activity Workbook for children to complete as part of the Calm Down Master Class (parents can do this too!)
A Creative Challenge for children to make a calm down tool kit (parents can do this too!)
The Energy Pod Frustration Class: 45 minutes of Smiley coaching where you and your child will have fun learning and talking with each about how anger shows up in your family (every family is different). You may be surprised at what comes out of this class for you and your child.
The Kind Hand Reminder to Help You Calm Down. This is a simple hand mnemonic to help you remember 5 useful things when you feel ANGRY. There is a short video to explain how to use it and a cheat sheet which will act as a visual prompt.
There are two coaching exercises for you to explore the softer more vulnerable feelings which lie beneath your anger
1) SADNESS and 2) DISAPPOINTMENT
There is also a SPECIAL BONUS Download for children and parents to help dissolve big angry feelings and 3 BONUS videos for parents to watch on making children wrong, what to do when your child finds losing difficult and how to instantly dissolve your own anger when emotions are running high.
Additional reading and Helpful Smiley Resources about anger for parents and children.