December 1, 2009


How often do you open the paper, turn on the radio or TV and learn about someone “losing it”? Doesn't it seem that as a society we're quick to lose our temper? Joblessness, meeting monthly expenses, houses being repossessed, etc. are enough to make anyone lose their cool! However, the resulting anger can become displaced and erupt in inappropriate ways: Road rage, “going postal” and other acts of over the top frustration. Every day there seems to be a new fury in the news—

If anger is ubiquitous, then you and your great/grandchildren can be caught up in this, consciously or unconsciously. If all this is bewildering and frightening to you, imagine how much it must bother children, because anger and fear sometimes hang out together.

Think about this: You get road rage in some degree when you're driving with your great/grandchildren. While you may not get out of your car to “reprimand” the “bad” driver who just cut you off, you might, with your windows up, start to scream at or berate that person (but of course, NOT swear). While this may do something for your state of mind, it can scare your young passengers.

If you use public transportation, you can lose your temper from being jostling by other passengers. Rudeness on the part of others seems to be pandemic in our society, but, if you can maintain your calm, it can become a teaching moment on the way to act in public.

What does adult anger mean to a child? It's scary. Children don't have enough life experience to judge how far the anger will go. You know that no matter how furious you are at another driver or passenger, you wouldn't do anything to get arrested. But the children don’t know that. For young children, your loss of control can evoke very scary feelings.

An angry person often creates an uncomfortable environment. Be aware that even though your anger may be justified (that driver or passenger really did do something rude or dangerous), you may yell for 30 seconds and forget the incident. But the children may store it and bring it back up the next time you get in the car or on public transportation. Bottom line is that you have the resources to deal with the anger. The effect on the children may not be so fleeting.

Things to Think About
Parents have their own ways of dealing with melt-downs and it may be different from yours. And that’s fine! What’s important is for kids to understand that people handle things in different ways. We’re talking here about how YOU deal with your feelings when you’re with your great/grandchildren.

We all have outbursts, frustrations and melt-downs. Sometimes it’s ok to talk about anger in general with your great/grandchildren: what it is, where it comes from, when it's good and when it's bad. Sometimes you just have to leave it alone!

1 comment:

  1. A lot of the frustration and anger occurring in rising amounts these days occurs in military families where (usually) the young wife is home with a kid or two, and they are all worried stiff about the father who is on his first or fourth deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. Home is often at or near a military base. Surrounding families are dealing with the same anxieties so they can provide only limited support. If grandparents could overcome their own problems and worries and provide both physical and mental help to their children and grandchildren it might ease the stress a bit. Of course, the best way to provide that support is for the grandparents to speak out for bringing the troops home since we're in no-win situations in both countries.