What Kids Need When They’re Angry
Filed Under (feelings, parenting tips)

My then-two year old daughter staged a tantrum of mammoth proportions.  She growled and screamed and kicked.  Her words were angry and loud.  I felt her frustration and wondered why mine wasn’t rising to meet hers.

A question popped into my head, “What do I need most when I’m out of control?”  The answer: Love.  When I’m at my worst, I want to know that I’m still lovable.  I want people to separate the doer from the deed; to detach me from my current behavior.  Let me explode and love me anyway.

My daughter glared at me with hands on hips and said, “I’m MAD at you!”  I smiled back at her, not with contempt but with compassion, and said, “It’s ok.  I still love you anyway.”  Instantly, the tantrum ended.  Her whole body softened as the venom inside of her dissipated.  Magically, as if nothing had happened, she said, “I still love you anyway too.”

This powerful lesson has stayed with me for years, reminding me of the need to give what often seems underserved – love.  The times we are being hateful are the times we need the most love.

We all veer off onto the rumble strip of life at times.  We get lazy or distracted from the road ahead.  We take our standards of conduct off-road and ride the bumpy terrain, often enjoying the thrill of bucking the norm.  But it’s rough driving out there.  Eventually we need to bring ourselves back to the center of the road.

At any moment we can turn the wheel and change who we are for who we want to be.  The next time you or a loved one drift off center, say, “I love you anyway,”  and watch what happens.

Q&A (Questions and Actions)

  • What throws you/your children off center?
  • Can you imagine separating the doer from the deed and treating her kindly despite her hatefulness?
  • Just for today, give love in the face of anger.
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