Anger is a perfectly normal emotion. It doesn’t need to be managed, or kept under control, it needs to be released in a safe way in order to work with the underlying trigger.
A CLIENTS STORY
One of my clients who’s an amazing mom, struggled with anger outbursts in her child. She explained what was happening and I mentored her on how to guide her son through it in a safe way. While we were talking about this, I could see her body cramping up, so I asked her what was happening and she burst into tears.
She told me that guiding her child towards safe release of anger felt very unsafe as it triggered multiple traumatic wounds for her. I held space for her to explore the triggers and we uncovered three.
ﻣ The first, being her husband who sometimes had explosive outburst of rage and had even punched a hole in a (dry) wall, which terrified her.
ﻣ Second, was the fear of how her child would walk the same path of her husband.
ﻣ Third was the fear she felt as a child when her father had an anger outburst.
Now that we knew what was happening, we could work with it. So, the part we worked on first, was part three. In order to guide her child and her husband towards safe release, she needed to regulate herself first. Witness the emotions in herself first. Allowing herself to feel what she felt, to let it move through her and guide herself back to safety.
Only when her body feels safe, can she hold space and be present with the anger of her child without losing herself in it. So, to do that we needed to go back to the source of the trigger: in her case the unpredictability and the fear she felt as a child when her father would have aggressive anger outbursts.
She avoided anger like the plague, doing EVERYTHING she could think of to prevent anger outbursts and when they did came, she would completely shut down.
I gave her a few Release tools (specific for her) to move with the body, move with the trigger, and soften the intensity of it. Over time, her nervous system learned that anger wasn’t an emotion that equalled danger and one that is unsafe. She could now become curious about it and explore the emotion safely.
The second part we worked on was her having a hard conversation with her husband. A vulnerable conversation where she needed to tell him how she felt, how her body responded and what she needs.
Not blaming him, but explaining what happened inside her and why. This turned out to be a beautiful conversation where they grew closer together and created a plan for safer emotional release for everyone. He took ownership over his part and started to work on it.
Then, and only then could they attend the anger in her child. You see, the child is never the problem! The child doesn’t need fixing. Children don’t do what we tell them to do, they do what they SEE us (the parents) do.
HOW TO SAFELY RELEASE ANGER IN CHILDREN
So by addressing the roots and the behaviour of mom and dad out in the open, the anger in the child lessened. And when it was there – as anger is a normal emotion – they now both new what to do in order for their child to have a safe release of the emotion, so they could address the underlying trigger and work with it.
A safe way to release anger in children is: stomping their feet, shaking their whole body, dancing, running around, throwing a ball, screaming (into a pillow), hitting a pillow, the couch or a mattrass or multiple things at the same time (shaking + yelling). Anything physical where the child or someone else can’t get hurt. By doing this, the built up energy can leave the body.
Afterwards the brain calmed down and can now again think. Think of solutions, and talk about what happened. The nervous system can now come back to a relaxed state instead of a triggered (fight, flight, freeze, fawn, collapse) state.
Without safe release of anger, the emotional energy is stored in the body and can wreak havoc on health. Physical and emotional. Unattended for long enough, it creates patterns of uncontrollable rage and endangerment later in life and the inability to form safe attachments to other people.
Mum and dad needed to learn how to work WITH it, instead of against it, or shoving it under the rug. They walked the path first and then their fantastic child learned from them, by watching them and mimicking them.
Doing this work changed their whole relationship dynamic, their family dynamic and it brought them closer on so many levels. As they learned emotions are a natural part of life and nothing to be feared and now had tools to effectively regulate them.
As children mum and dad never learned how to safely release anger, learning this and teaching their child this changed the course of their family and everyone coming after them.
Maybe you regocnise yourself in the story. Know that there is nothing wrong with you or the situation. You too, can learn emotional regulation.
Parenting itself is not that hard, the hard part is dealing with the buttons they push along the way.
Learning to move through this is exactly what we do in a small and safe setting inside release. If you want to learn to regulate your emotions effectively and heal hurt parts within yourself so that cycle stops with you, take a look at RELEASE. I’d me more than happy to guide you in this next phase of your parenting.