I hear you . . . "Ummmm, Paige, why is the title 'Scared Little Mouse' and the photo above is a big, scary, aggressive Grizzly?" Good question people!
Last week we learned that anger is a cover for scarier, more vulnerable emotions, like feeling unheard, powerless, disrespected, overwhelmed and smothered, to name a few. (Click on Anger: A Primer if you need a refresher.) Our kids see us as this big Grizzly when are yelling and losing our minds to get things done. If they saw beneath the fur coat they'd see the scared little mouse, trapped and using the only tools we think we have, yelling, gnashing teeth, clawing our way out and through our family to get to work on time (or get homework done, dinner eaten, baths taken, rooms cleaned up).
Let's hit pause and ask ourselves if all that ferocity is building the relationship, the child's self-respect and our self-respect? Or is it wearing down the relationship, the child's self-respect and our self-respect?
I imagine our child walking in the forest of our family and consider, would they dare to ask that Grizzly how to clean up the chocolate they accidentally got on the white couch, or what to do because their best friend started smoking pot, or they blew off their science fair project and have only 12 hours to get it done, or how to do their own laundry, ? I doubt it. They'd probably wait until the Grizzly was distracted by some blueberries (a glass of wine or an i pad) or was hibernating (sleeping, out of the house) and then they'd try to figure out the chocolate clean up (or hide it), the pot smoking, the science fair project, the laundry, in secret, when all was quiet and safe.
And then I imagine in a few years, when the child we are trying to control with anger is 24 and needs to get themselves to the car in the morning. . . will they need a big ole Grizzly behind them (a mean boss, a demanding partner, a vicious voice in their head) to get them moving? Is anger really the best way to teach or practice doing what needs to get done?
This is so depressing! Whether we unleash it like the Grizzly, or if we repress it and become icy and cold, or if our kids use it to control the situation (you know the families that walk around on eggshells to stop the angry kid from hijacking the day).
Hot or cold, theirs or ours, anger touches all our lives. When it bubbles up we have a choice what to do. Stay tuned because next week I'll help you interpret what anger is really saying along with options and actions we can use that will build the relationship and keep our child's and our self-respect intact. I can't wait!