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Marraige and Family

Expect the Expected

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12/01/2009 - I still remember the image from a couple of years ago when I witnessed another person's road rage at its peak. I was driving down the road and I glanced over at the oncoming vehicles in the opposite lane. Since it was a "busy" Wyoming road, there were only two vehicles in the oncoming lane. A pickup had apparently cut off the car which was behind. I watched as the driver in that car slammed on his breaks, locking up all four tires, sliding to a screeching and smoke filled stop in the middle of the road. The driver jumped out of his car and yelled at the truck who continued on seemingly without noticing.

When it comes to emotions, only one thing is certain; some of them are very unpleasant. We all enjoy feeling happy, joyful, elated, and proud. I have yet to meet a person who finds pleasure in feeling angry, sad, depressed or frustrated. One of the most difficult of these to manage and tolerate is anger. Tolerating yourself when you're angry is difficult; tolerating an angry loved one can be a whole new ball game. In our discomfort with seeing our loved ones feel angry, we often try to "fix" the problem, only to find that we make the situation worse.

One job parents have with kids is to teach them how to handle themselves when angry. Anger tends to be the emotion that strikes up the most concern for parents. Left unchecked, anger can be very damaging to many, not just the angry person. Keep in mind, anger is also a common feeling which all people experience. As a parent, do not be surprised when your child expresses anger or frustration. For example, when you must administer discipline, your child will probably become angry at you. Do not let this stop you from disciplining, but rather, allow your son or daughter to have a chance to cool off then be willing to enter discussion regarding how that anger is to be handled. Problems enter when an expectation is held that your child will agree with the needed disciplinary actions, or, out of discomfort at the prospect of an angry child, discipline is withheld.

Another common mistake is to think that your children will handle their anger differently than you do. From very early on, children are observing and learning how to manage conflict, deal with anger, and express emotions. Most of what is picked up is from watching the people who are most involved in their lives. If you are a parent, you become the biggest influence. What you can expect is another you. If you respond to anger by becoming sarcastic and mouthy, so will your child. If you are explosive and thus yell, cuss and hit things, your child will feel this is an appropriate and adequate way of venting. Though very difficult, if you can respond to anger by taking a few minutes to cool off then talk about the event in a calm, collected and respectful manner, you can teach your kids to follow the same suit.

Expect what is expected. If an event would likely make you angry, it will also with your child. How you tend to handle your anger, is how your child will likely approach the situation. Do not expect the unexpected. Do not expect your child to handle anger in a more appropriate way than you do. Do not expect your child to never experience anger.

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