A large portion of our students come to us to learn skills in how to control their angry behavior because they can see it’s becoming a problem at home. There’s a disconnect in the marriage because the spouse has become detached and stopped listening to the hysteria and the kids are beginning to show signs of stress. In one recent situation, the dad didn’t realize how bad he had gotten until a concerned teacher contacted him directly to tell him how anxious his son had become in class during the last couple of months. While discussing the behavior, the father realized that it coincided with his increased frustration and anger with work and that he was venting at home. He knew it was time to make a change, probably a new job, and some soul-searching on his end to improve the way he’s handling every day life. In another situation, the parent reached her limit with her toddler over the holidays and lost it at a shopping mall. Someone witnessed the scene and called the police. As a result, the court ordered her to take anger management and parenting classes.
Neither scenario is rare. Anger is actually one of the most common problems in relationships. When it begins to escalate, particularly towards the children, it’s time to get help. Research time and again has shown that chronic anger, even if it seems harmless or meaningless to you, does cause lasting damage to the developing brains of young children. Children who repeatedly witness anger, verbal abuse or physical violence tend to initially exhibit symptoms like:
1. Depression – loss of interest in friendships and fun things that used to make them happy. This can also manifest itself in insomnia or too much sleep.
2. Problems at school – won’t do homework, no initiation to study for tests, disruptiveness during class time, won’t sit still or has become quiet and withdrawn, and/or exhibits nervousness and fear.
3. Increased anxiety – is worried about going home at the end of the school day, is nervous about how the parent will respond in front of other people, is fearful of own safety.
4. Exhibit low confidence – the child is insecure and feels inadequate and powerless. He or she feels like he has to walk on eggshells at home and can’t do anything right which translates into low self-esteem.
5. Become less empathetic – the child is in a toxic environment in which communication is unhealthy and they aren’t being shown the love they need. In order to protect themselves, they put up walls and tend to be less caring of others and more distant.
Learning to effectively deal with your anger is an important life skill that can turn your family life around and help to set your kids on track to thrive. The choice is yours. Our students who take the time to learn new tools and utilize them become more patient and calm when dealing with life’s daily bumps. The end result is often a renewed positive outlook for the entire family.