Are Your Children Allowed to be Angry?
As a parent, are you comfortable allowing your children to express their anger? Do you rush to shut it down, for fear they, or you, will lose control? Do you see anger as a negative emotion? When it is handled unskillfully it certainly can be. But it can also be a guide. Learning to express our anger in non-harmful ways is healthy, and it is a skill that our children need to be able to navigate this world successfully.
The world is filled with anger. Right now, it seems there is more anger than ever before, or maybe it’s just more in your face in our hyper-connected society. It is certainly true that social media and constant news is fueling the collective anger of citizens around the world.
There is not a single 24 hour news cycle that does not involve someone espousing their anger at some person or group that they feel is responsible for all their woes. Faces screwed up in anger can be found on every news feed. We are an angry species and many of us are not afraid to show it.
But most of us are uncomfortable with anger — ours and other people’s. We do not think anger has a place in a civil society. Certain segments of society are especially not allowed to express their anger, and many of us have learned to keep it inside.
The unskillful expression of anger is what causes verbal and physical attacks, mass shootings and even wars. Closer to home, anger that is not handled appropriately can destroy marriages, families and partnerships of every kind.
While it would be easy to point the finger at anger as the culprit behind so many tragedies, anger is not the problem. It is our inability to express anger in ways that are productive, safe, and conducive to resolution that is the problem.
As parents we have the opportunity to teach our children to manage their anger in ways that are not destructive or harmful to themselves and others. We can teach them to use their anger as a guide to help them express their needs. But in order to do this, we have to allow them to feel their anger. And, we have to not be afraid of our children’s anger.