Thursday, February 5, 2015

Hard Places and Feelings: Anger

What anger looks like?

Anger. It is the number one emotion my kids show.  It is often shown to cover up feelings of sadness or disappointment. Anger means that someone else is at fault.  It tends to be an "easy" feeling to feel.  It often looks just like you think it would: temper tantrums, screaming, hitting.  At times anger can go all the way to extreme of raging.

Anger can be a dangerous feeling, it allows the child to get out of control and often justifies bad behavior.  For kids from hard places anger is often misdirected.  For my kiddos anger at a birth parent is often placed on us, the adoptive parents.  And of the two of us, mom gets the brunt of most of the anger.  Mothers are suppose to be loving and nurturing and when a mother fails at  task its devastating.  Being angry at the person who deserves it is usually too hard for these kiddos to handle.  Instead they find the easy target--the foster or adoptive mother. 

How to uncover anger?

Anger is easy to spot because it has such a bold outward appearance.  However, we have found that pointing out to our kiddos that they seem angry goes a long way in easing the feeling.  We often tell our kids, "I see your eyebrows are furrowed and your fists are clenched.  You seem angry.  Let's talk about that."  When a kiddo has their feeling recognized and acknowledge they are better able to handle it appropriately.  It also helps them to pause and think, "Oh yeah, I AM feeling angry."

How does this relate to me?


Unfortunately, like my kids, this is my go-to feeling.  I often find my anger bubbling over and my voice rising in frustration.  For me, anger tends to be a generational problem.  I've seen this in myself and in all of my kiddos (including Sweet Pea).  While I am working with my kiddos on their feelings, I am also acknowledging my own need to work on anger. 

I have learned to put a few strategies into place to help.  First, I wear a bracelet on my arm.  It reminds me to take a deep breathe and pray for my feelings and my kiddos feelings.  Second, when I feel my frustration rising I try to sit back and ask myself two things: 1. What is truly causing my frustration? and 2. Is it justified?.  Third, I try to whisper instead of yell.  It's amazing how a whisper can calm me and make my child's ears perk up. 

Even with all these strategies I am still a work in progress.  I do a lot of apologizing and explaining why I was angry to my kids.  When  I can show them healthy ways of fixing the mistakes anger makes, it helps them to better cope with the feelings themselves.

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