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“Anger At Our Children” (Or Our Students)

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Anger At Our Children is a column published today Psychology Today. It’s targeted at parents and their children, but could just as well be for teachers and how they relate to their students.

Here’s an excerpt:

If you’ve had a bad day….you might come home to find your kid’s shoes in the middle of the floor and respond with:

“That lazy, selfish, inconsiderate, little brat!”

Then, too, you can come home after a great day of feeling fine about yourself, see the same shoes in the middle of the floor and think, “Oh, that’s just Jimmy,” and not think twice about it.

The difference in your reaction to the child’s behavior lies entirely within you and depends completely on how you feel about yourself. In the first case the child’s behavior seems to diminish your sense of self, and the anger is to punish him for doing it to you. In the second instance, the child’s behavior does not diminish your sense of personal importance, value, power, or lovability. So there is no need for anger. You don’t need a hammer to solve the problem of the shoes in the middle of the floor. Rather, the problem to be solved is how to teach the child to be more considerate in his behavior; you won’t do that by humiliating or scaring him with anger. His reaction to humiliation and fear will be the same as yours: an inability to see the other person’s perspective, an overwhelming urge to blame, and an impulse for retaliation or punishment. Anger comes with two motivations: avoid or attack. Can you think of a family problem that avoidance or attack will help?

Been there, done that.

Of course, the key is to remember to remember this “in the moment.”

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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