By Christopher Emmanuel
“Anger always comes from frustrated expectations”
It was dark, ink black, when the little boy woke abruptly from his sleep. The position of the small bed where he laid, with his two sisters and two brothers, had him crowded against the wall. He moved a foot off his back. His sister Lucy, sprawled beside him, he could barely make out her night shirt stuck to her body from the night heat. Her black face shone purple as the single window light cast a shadow across the small room. Bang! Bang! He heard the wall rocking as something knocked against it from the adjacent room. “O God, No! No! Oooooh!! He could hear his mother crying. Then his fathers’ slurred, drunk voice, “Shut your ……….ing mouth, I am the man do as I say!!”
The boy ducked back under the sheet near his sisters arm, cupping his ears, squeezing his eyes shut, drowning out the sound best as he could. Anger poisoned him, then sadness. Whimpering in silence, he was much too young to understand.
Anger and abuse go hand in hand. In many cultures it is a daily occurrence, mostly hidden and not talked about. But the cost to the young mind plays out years to come. What we say and do are like feathers in a pillow. Once let out, you can never get them all back. And you never know how far the feathers travel. When children are around we have a responsibility to their future. What penetrates their hearts and mind we never know.
When anger start to show in young children we need to teach them how to understand and deal with this emotion in a direct and nonaggressive way. Children learn first by example, no matter what you say, the young need to be shown.
Below are some simple ways to help the young manage anger:
Create a Safe Emotional Place. A safe childhood home which permits children to express and have their feelings acknowledged, pleasant or unpleasant without feeling shame or guilt for feeling.
Teach Responsible Anger Management. Show them how to take responsibility for their anger by talking and identifying the different anger emotions, such as: Anxious, frustrated, Worthless, Hostile, Jealous, Vengeful, etc., and ask them where it came from.
Teach them how not to take the law into their own hands. Show them how to speak to the teacher or parent so as not to create crime in our society. Let them know that freedom is taken away from those who decide to abuse their ability to follow the law.
Teach how to use Firm words. Show them how to take responsibility for their anger by talking firmly, expressing their emotions, showing they are not afraid and will do the proper thing- like speaking to the party that angers them and direct they actions to the pertinent authorities
Encourage Children to Label Feelings. As they describe their angry feeling. A permanent record (a book or chart) can be made labels for anger (e.g., mad, irritated, annoyed), and refer to it when the feelings arise again.
Discuss and Show how to release the anger. Explain the emotions and show healthy ways to deal with it in a non aggressive way. Such as: Writing angry words and releasing the emotions. Talking to the persons’ who made you angry in a respectful way and telling them how you feel. Doing physical exercise to release the emotion.
Children guided toward responsible anger management are more likely to understand and manage angry feelings directly and nonaggressive. This helps to avoid them from committing criminal acts as they grow into adults. When your child stops talking to you, find out who they are talking to.
Books by Christopher Emmanuel can be purchased online at: www.cemmanuel.com or at his Art Gallery at the Sunbreeze Hotel in San Pedro Town, San Pedro Books store and at Sol Spa.