Is it okay to be angry?
I often start with this question when talking about anger with children. Their answer is usually no. They look at me like I am fibbing when I tell them it is okay to be angry.
For the most part, being angry has become synonymous with acting destructively – physically or verbally. So if you are angry then you are doing something wrong. Feeling angry should be viewed as normal and acceptable; however, anger must be expressed appropriately. The anger rules help kids learn the boundaries of healthy expression.
It is okay to be angry as long as…
- you don’t hurt yourself,
- you don’t hurt other people,
- you don’t hurt things.
Now the harder part, what are okay ways to show you are angry?
I find kids most easily incorporate methods that involve physical release such as pounding play-doh, throwing a foam ball, yelling outside, punching a pillow, tearing up designated paper. After the energy is gone, then it is easier for kids to learn to talk through what happened. The goal is over time to be able to need the physical activities less and be able to rely more on words.
Another key is parents typically overlook their influence of helping their children learn to cope with their emotions. Children often don’t know many productive ways to cope their anger because adults often don’t model any productive ways. We either keep all of our anger inside, deal with it privately, or explode in some fashion. So next time you have something that irritates you, share a child-friendly version of what happened with your child and let them see how you handle it.