Cooling Anger in Your HomeJul 27, 2022
My stomach tightens, my head feels like it could spin off my head though I feel like I can barely move. Anger has taken over…again. I am burning inside because my son didn’t listen…for the 10th time today! I’ve had a complex relationship with anger over my life. When I was in my teens and twenties, I let it flow. Then I became a mom and learned to stuff it. I thought I could hide it from my kids, but they could still see the steam pouring out of my ears and felt my coldness as I went into shut down mode. When they got older, they called it “robot mode”. I’m not sure what your relationship with anger is like, but we all have one. Anger is a basic human emotion. Do you implode and try to absorb all the anger internally, or do you explode and let it flow out? What are you teaching your child about anger? How about your partner? Learning to let anger out in a healthy way without causing collateral damage takes time and practice. Most people don’t have this even close to mastered before they become parents. So now what?
When we get angry, empathy and compassion cool the heat of anger. Unfortunately, the common response is to throw lighter fluid on the fire of another person’s anger. On these hot August days, it feels good to refresh in the coolness of water. Just as water refreshes us from the heat outside, empathy and compassion cool the heat on the inside. Anger is a physiological response to feeling threatened or unsafe in some way. It can be a real threat or simply a perceived threat. The brain is triggered to go into fight, flight, or freeze mode. Children who are neurodivergent or have endured trauma are triggered to become angry or afraid more easily than a typical child or adult. So how can we cool anger in our home with those we love most dearly? What practical tools help to cool down anger?
- Take a deep breath and talk to yourself in a soothing internal voice.
Step away for a moment if you need to calm yourself.
- Compassion is the anecdote for fear and anger. Show your child that you see him and hear his concerns. Use limited language because it is difficult to absorb language in a fearful or angry state.
- Create a calming space in your house for each child (and yourself) with soothing objects like a fluffy blanket, something to chew on like candy, gum, a chewable object. Other ideas include, a stuffed toy, calming scent, fidget, notebook, music, or weighted blanket.
- Talk with your family about giving one another space and empathy when anger erupts. Once it hits, the adrenaline and cortisol churning through the body needs time to recede. A pause can give the body time to recover.
- When you need to address topics that are stressful for your child, seek to have the conversation when you are both calm and at eye level with one another.
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