Saturday, January 13, 2018

Anger—effect on your child

Effect of Anger on your Child

Anger has a silent but permanent effect on your child. Anger can affect your professional life, harm relationships, and has significant health implications. But quite apart from how it affects you personally, it affects your children. Children of angry adults have been seen to be more aggressive, oppositional and non-compliant. They are also less empathetic; and display poor overall social adjustment. Delinquency and anti-social behaviour are also more common in such children.

Is anger hereditary or learned?

  • A child experiences emotions from birth, but how he/she handles emotions is largely determined by learning. While a child may have an irritable temperament, no child is born with temper tantrums. A child learns that throwing a temper tantrum is rewarding (gets attention or gets him what he wants).
  • From infancy onward, children learn by imitation. As parents, we are the first role models. Our children watch us; and then model their behaviour on ours. A child will for example; notice that we talk to our elders respectfully, but that we talk brusquely, even rudely to our maids. They will soon behave the same way.So it is with anger. Children observe how we react in difficult situations, how we react to provocation; how we deal with differences. Do we negotiate and listen to the other person’s point of view? Or do we react immediately and aggressively? Do we talk amicably and or do we get what we want by threats and abuses? How we behave and act today is what our children will emulate tomorrow.
What is the effect on a child when adults behave angrily in front of them? It depends a great deal on the age, developmental stage, personality and emotional maturity of the child.
  • Young children, particularly, are scared and confused when they see adults who are ‘out of control’. When it happens often, they learn to think of this behaviour as ‘normal’; and they assume that verbal or physical aggression is the ‘normal’ way to deal with differences, to control others, or get what one wants.
  • Very often, children are at the receiving end of parental anger. This may be due to unfair and unrealistic expectations that parents have from their children; or misplaced anger that has its basis somewhere else. Fear, insecurity, and poor self-esteem occur almost universally. Withdrawal, anxiety, depression are some of the negative consequences of such anger. This affects optimal performance in school and peer relationships. 
  • Alternatively, the child may learn to defend itself by increasingly oppositional behaviour, bullying younger siblings or other children, or engage in other disruptive behaviours –truancy, aggression and violence.
  • Parental anger deprives children of the basic need for security and comfort in their own homes. It also perpetuates the legacy of anger and aggression; conflict and fear.

Anger management strategies for interacting with children

  • Learn to become calmer when interacting with children. If you are fuming because you were held up in a traffic jam, cool off with a shower before interacting with your child.
  • Physical abuse is a strict no.
  • Try and understand the underlying issues behind your anger. Is your frustration resulting from an unsatisfactory day at work? Is your disappointment with your child’s academic performance related to your own expectations?
  • Learn about your child—his needs, his temperament, learning styles, even the normal development process. This will go a long way in modifying your unreal expectations.
It is possible to break the destructive chain of anger and to create an environment of safety and security in your home for your children. Start today.