Step 8(b): Pre and Post-Peaceful Parenting – Working with Anger

The challenge posed by anger can feel insurmountable. We loose control only to be wracked with guilt (because of our actions) and shame (because we feel unworthy of being charged with helping a young child grow into a responsible adult). Creating our toolkit specifically for moments like these is key, because no matter how hard we try, we will get angry. And no matter how hard we work, at some point a little person will find themselves in the line of fire.

Peaceful Parenting can help. Not only does it assist in regulating your children’s behaviour, but your own behaviour is also regulated using the same techniques that you will master to help support your child.

The biggest shift for me when dealing with anger has been the incorporation of self-empathy when building my connection with the children. Before being introduced to Peaceful Parenting, our family had been going through a lot of turmoil. Watching their father’s illness progress was only one of many experiences that sent very big feelings racing through each of us. I have now come to learn that, when left unchecked, these big emotions can easily transform into anger.

Before my introduction to Peaceful Parenting, I didn’t realize that anger was a compound emotion. I didn’t realize that even the most frustrating of my children’s behaviours were simply signals of their unmet needs. And I certainly didn’t realize that it was okay to feel frustrated and angry myself because the children were not the only people in the household whose needs were not being met. Understanding behaviour through a lens of feelings and needs has saved this family. And as we continue to explore where our anger is coming from, we are learning just as much about our selves as we are learning about each other.

Peaceful Parenting has also taught me about the importance of supporting the children by assuming the best – not the worst – in all our experiences together. For example, when the children’s behaviour would trigger me and I would begin to feel my blood boiling, I used to assume that the children were being naughty on purpose. I understood that they might be sad and frustrated or even disappointed and angry themselves at losing their father so soon in their young lives. And yet, even with my finger on the pulse of those feelings, I did not have the language and understanding of the effectiveness of communicating through feelings and needs, and without that my response to their “naugtiness” was fairly limited. Within the scope of the dominant paradigm of parenting, the bad behaviour had to be punished. I choose what I believed were “good punishments” – taking away videogames or toys, or sending the children to their room for a time out so that they could calm down and re-think their behaviour. But all of this was really not getting to the root of the problem.

Learning more about the Peaceful Parenting paradigm has allowed me to burst through the limitations that the dominant paradigm of parenting – a paradigm based primarily on controlling children’s behaviour. First, I realized that I had to check in with my self and take notice of how and why I was being triggered. Once I recognized that first piece, I was able to adjust my inner dialogue: it’s not that the kids are being naughty. Something else is going on, and the fun of parenting is getting our detective hats on to investigate what they are feeling and what they need. Then, parenting became exciting! Peaceful Parenting has provided loads of creative ways to get to understand our own and our children’s feelings and needs. And with this growing vocabulary, parenting in a whole new way is not only possible, but happening in our home right now!

With love, light & healing,

Laura Mae.

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