When you feel angry, or feel yourself losing control, just walk away and take some time to yourself. This is great advice, but what if you are doing more walking away than engaging? Where do we draw the line with our kids? Is walking away really the best thing to teach them?For me a lot of my anxiety is expressed as anger. I find myself stuck in the fight mode, rather than the flight. This then results in emotional overload and in steps depression. It’s exhausting. It also means that anything that I am trying to say is overtaken by my anger. No one responds well to anger.
I spend a lot of time with my teeth clenched, holding in the poison that is threatening to break through. I spend a lot of time apologising when those words slip through. I spend the rest of my time beating myself up for letting them. I don’t want my son to go through that same cycle of hate.
It is really important to me to acknowledge the things that Mr 6 is feeling. I’m not perfect and there are times when I push him away. However I work hard to understand what he is trying to tell me with his actions. I know that telling him that I understand why he is upset works faster than ignoring a tantrum. Although I also know that there are times when he just needs to rage, and I need to allow him that space.
We don’t need to be teaching our kids that emotions are bad. Emotions just are. All emotions serve a purpose, and we need to be teaching our kids about that purpose. We have mistakenly been calling emotions bad, when in reality it is the way we react (aka behaviour) that is bad.
The expression of emotions is such a delicate process. We teach our kids more about healthy expressions through our actions than our words ever could. Walking away when we are angry is great, as long as we also model to our kids that we still deal with what made us angry.
That is the difference between acknowledging our own feelings, and using techniques to invalidate their feelings. Walking away should never be used as a means to manipulate the other person. We need to model to our children positive communication skills, and this includes talking to them about how something makes you feel. Of course this needs to wait until you are able to calmly explain yourself.
I know that I am using walking away as a way to hide. I know that it is unhelpful to myself and to Mr 6 because it creates resentment and confusion. Together we have learned that explaining why we are feeling upset and validating his own feelings of distress has gone a long way to reducing tantrums. At the end of the day validation is the goal that we are working towards.