Visualize the following situation:
A four year old child comes home from play. The father greets him with a hug and helps him wash his feet and hands. At this moment, either with playful intention or by accident, he spills water on the child. He is annoyed, already, tired and looking forward probably to eat something and squat before the TV. So, he angrily spews out an expletive.
That is not acceptable to a father, determined to bring up his son in a, proper, civilised, manner. So, he scolds him and asks him to apologise. The child refuses obstinately. Now the father's feudalistic ego takes over and the child is abused, threatened with dire consequences and forced to say, "sorry", with an extracted promise that he Will never ever repeat his 'bad' behaviour.
The irony in this is that it was the child who was the victim to start with and it is he who should have received an apology. Instead he is made to feel guilty as a criminal. Justice is denied to him and his natural anger is forcefully suppressed.
Can you imagine what subconscious image of an adult that this child will carry throughout his life? Also, the forcibly repressed anger within the child can lead to anti social behaviour.
This takes me to my main theme. Do only adults have a right to be angry? In fact a normal adult knows about the negative consequences of anger, yet he or she rarely fails in getting into fits of anger, oftentimes, for petty reasons.
People are known to commit crimes in a fit of anger. Yet, we take it for granted. At the same time why do we deny a child it's moment of anger?
I propose that every child has a right to be angry! As he is accosted by events that confronts his sense of wrong, he should allowed to be angry. However, to ensure that he learns to understand and manage his anger, the right thing for a parent is to understand what made him angry and handle it in a sympathetic and educational manner.
What can happen, instead, as the above example shows, is that our own immaturity surfaces, our anger takes over and we lose our sense of perspective. Instead of one who resolves, we become a problem for the child.
Thus, it is imperative that we become particularly cautious when dealing with a child, in general, and one who is angry, in particular.
I agree what I said is easier said than done. Confronting an angry child, throwing tantrums , can very frustrating and it is not surprising one loses one's equanimity and, hence, reacts injudiciously. But there is trick, I'll share that works very well:
A popular advice is to just walk away and ignore the child. Hopefully, the child will mope for a while and come back to terms. However, try this next time your child is very angry and begins a hostile behaviour - just hold him in a tight loving hug. He will resist initially but watch him melt slowly and then completely forget that he has an issue with you. You can also follow it up with a little joke about his anger, mimic him or whatever suits at that moment. This technique has always worked for me like a charm. This may not work with children less than three years old because they are at that stage which can be more beautifully expressed borrowing Tennyson's words:
"An infant crying in the night:
An infant crying for the light:
And with no language but a cry."
Remember that a young boy or girl never goes about with a chip on their shoulders ( unlike what some Bollywood themes seem to suggest). They are quick to drop the past and keep moving on.
So, move on, give your child the right to be angry!
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