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By Paige Trevor

From ages 0 – 32 my go-to emotion was crying.  If I wanted to rally the troops around me and get something done, I would cry and pout.  At 32 with two children under age four,  I was suddenly the adult. In my new found adulthood I realized I couldn’t tearfully call my sister to solve the morning mayhem problem.  No, I had to get two smallies out of the house, EVERY day and the tears didn’t work on them.  When I dug in my toolbox, the only thing I found was ANGER, and people, anger works.  People MOVE when you are yelling at them. What a discovery, be a total jerk until people succumb to your will.  Fabulous!

However, as we know, all good things must come to an end and I went to PEP (Parent Encouragement Program) to learn about parenting (well, I really went to have them fix my kids, but that’s a story for another time). There I learned the destructiveness of unleashing anger on the people you love the most in the world.  

Anger touches all of us, it’s an energy, it’s information, it’s a guide and it shouldn’t be repressed, unleashed or ignored. For this week let’s consider that anger covers up scarier emotions that we would rather not admit to, let alone feel.  Shall we go through some examples?

We yell at our kids to put their shoes on. Is it possible we felt unheard and disrespected, after all, they put their shoes on at pre-school, why won’t they listen to us?

We are furious and nag when homework doesn’t get done. Perhaps we are scared and awfulizing thinking, “will these kids ever get into college, get a job, or live up to their potential?”

We are hostile and aggressive when our four year old gets up for the 723rd time to ask for something at bedtime. Might it be we are desperately tired and feel smothered by our beloved child?

Anger actually comes from a place of vulnerability rather then strength.  Think of the Great and Powerful Oz behind the curtain — just a regular guy (parent), living in a foreign land (kids are strange and beautiful creatures), trying to get home (or to work, or to bed).  We use all sorts of bluster, smoke and scary voices to hide the fact that we are just a regular guy from Kansas, scared and alone, with some pots, pans and a smoke machine behind the curtain.

Next time we (or they) get angry, let’s see if we (or they) are really feeling – ignored, scared, anxious, unheard, disrespected, abused, smothered, tired, overwhelmed, teased, broken-hearted, embarrassed, humiliated, unappreciated, sick, wounded, hopeless, small or taken advantage of. Changes the game, huh?

This blog, shared with permission, originally appeared on the site Balancing Act LLC.

Everyone experiences anger, so it’s no surprise that Managing Anger: A Parent’s Guide is one of our most popular classes. This winter we have four offerings of this in-person class in Kensington, Maryland and Washington, D.C. — register today!