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October 18, 2012
Slow Down the Emotion
When the emotion starts increasing in your interactions, it’s time to slow down the process. One mom said, “I feel a lot of intensity and tend to react without thinking. It’s as if my emotions have the ability to bypass my brain. It takes work to understand what’s actually going on. I’m learning to slow down and think more about what I’m feeling. I’m making progress and I’m gaining some insight into how I relate to my kids. They’re seeing some changes in me too. I’m becoming less afraid of emotions and more eager to understand them and make the most of them in our family.”
By stopping each time you get angry and evaluating the situation, you can use anger to point out problems and then choose another strategy for your response. Some people believe that the only way to deal with anger is to drain it by venting. In fact, common advice from some psychologists suggests that anger must somehow be released. They say that you have the right to yell, scream, kick, and throw a temper tantrum because anger is an energy sweltering deep inside you and you need a way to express it.
We don’t believe that repressing emotions is good, but that doesn’t mean that venting them is helpful either. When people feel the freedom to vent anger, they often end up hurting others and damaging relationships.
The Bible takes a different approach. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” Control is better than venting. Control allows us to use anger as a tool rather than a weapon. When parents and children recognize the complexity of emotions and how to wisely respond to them, they will feel anger less intensely and less often.
If you’re struggling with anger in yourself or your children, then every time you see the intensity rising, slow things down, take a break, and resist the temptation to turn up the heat. That’s the first step toward managing conflict in a healthy way.
This parenting tip comes from the book, Good and Angry, Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids, by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.