“Arike, have you sorted the clothes?”
As I walked briskly up the staircase, I was amazed and at the same time furious -the laundry basket, in all its glory of heapfulness of unsorted clothes, gave me a rude embrace!
What does this girl take me for? How dare she tell me such an obvious lie???
“Ariiiiiike”, I yelled out her name.
As she approached, I felt a strong urge from the pit of hell to give her a hot and resounding slap and have a pull at her unheeding ears!
Recognising the anger flags, I managed to take in three deep pangs of air and then let them all out.
“I feel angry that these clothes are still unsorted when you just told me they already were”, I managed to say with all the calm I could muster.
“I thought you were referring to the washed and dried clothes in my room. I already sorted and arranged them in the wardrobe”, she said, looking somewhat confused.
Oh…I see… I said, truly relieved and glad that I had put that anger under check and I wasn’t raising a deceptive child!
“I was actually referring to this heap of dirty clothes, I said; you will sort them right away, won’t you?”
“Ok mom”, she responded.
Of the three thousand plus emotions human beings have the potential to experience, anger is just one. It is a healthy emotion and has its place where it is functional, empowering and designed to serve us. Unfortunately, it also has a way of sneaking in and taking control of our thoughts and actions, making us to react or behave in a negative manner before we realise it.
Parents unintentionally ruin the relationship and trust of their children as a result of wrong assumptions, blaming and giving negative responses in anger. The downward turn of this is that it can also fuel negative emotions and attitudes in such unfortunate children.
For example, rather than open up to admit an action, the fear of a parent’s disapproval or negative reaction can cause a child to cover up his deliberate or mistaken actions, take to telling lies and blame others where he should own up and take responsibility. Reacting negatively to a child in anger may also cause the child to grow up fearful and hinder him or her from taking risks in life.
Negative reactions to anger motivate through fear and manipulate children. It sometimes gives an illusion of effectiveness. However, research and experience has shown that it works to subdue only in the moment but may not promote the learning expected in the long run.
Anger can fuel aggressive behaviours. Children who are always almost responded to negatively with anger may also have short fuses and react in negative ways when the situation calls for an assertive response. This triggers aggressive behaviours like sibling fights, competition, separation from others, hostility, to mention a few.
It is the responsibility of every parent, teacher, caregiver etc to model appropriate behavior and responses to children. It is your responsibility to master the act of putting your negative reaction or response when angry under check. The first step in this is to learn about your own anger and the things that set them off.
When you seek to understand before seeking to be understood, you make a huge investment in your child-parent relationship.
With the right awareness, support and practice, you can get better at catching your anger and avoid negative reactions before it takes over you.
We can walk the journey… Together.