The face begins to turn red and I know each time it’s coming. A loud growl and words that sound like The store again! My brother is soooo annoying (then a loud smack), my app isn’t working! No, I don’t want to want turn the t.v. off. You are so mean. The loud and angry lion with roars of what he doesn’t want to do.
This is a tough day. Wait this happened yesterday, too! I have a few minutes of calm before the storm and I’m feeling like I want to avoid asking my kids anything because I don’t want to deal with the anger and I’m tired. What I want to do is make the days better but I keep getting pulled into to the same angry cycle. I just finished reading No Drama Discipline book by Dan Siegel. I decide to use it to help guide me in our family meeting.
I approach the kids about sitting down together to talk, their eyes roll and the look of oh no is all over their faces. I take a deep breath to help me keep calm. We sit around the table and I start by saying all the specific things they do that have been good. I see a hint of a smile, then each one speaks about what has been positive this week. I take a deep breath. I’m going to be authentic and I say what we are going to talk about next is hard, but it’s something we need to figure out together. I give them each an example of how their behavior is not okay when they are angry. The first one starts with blaming his anger on everyone else.
I empathize and say, getting really angry is hard, I get it. We are a family we need to figure out other ways to express our anger. You can be angry, but show me different a way to be angry. I take another deep slow breath. Our time is short. I don’t want this talk to go on for too long for I am concerned about it taking a turn for the worse. I only have their focus for so long.
So we move to the next part which goes like this. We all like to go out to eat. Each of us likes to have different choices, so let’s come up with our own menu of calming options for when we get angry. I take out paper and markers and we do it together. They come up with a list of 10 items;
They draw some pictures to match the list. On the cover is a large lion to represent the anger. Then we added a specialty menu item that said if the first choice doesn’t work then try something else on the menu. So we all said good bye for now to the angry lion but if we hear any growling we know just what to feed it because we have some pretty good options on our menu.
Families argue and disagree. That is part of being in a relationship with other people. However, it’s important for families to have open communication and develop different ways to problem solve. Anger is a normal feeling what’s important is how we cope and communicate our angry feelings. Meeting with your family in this way helps encourage a change in how the family communicates.
ROSE LAPIERE, LPC, RPT-S, ACS