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“A torn jacket is soon mended, but hard words bruise the heart of a child." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Anger is not an easy emotion. Anger is in fact a powerful emotion. Understanding this emotion is almost as difficult as understanding why we sometimes can’t control it. The first thing we need to do is to ask ourselves why at times we get angry. Often times when our children do something we don’t want them to do, this will trigger our anger, sometimes turning it into all out rage.

If we act inappropriately, strike out at our children either physically or emotionally, depending on the level of our anger, this could mean that something else is happening inside. Angry parents may produce angry children. Children in turn may abuse their siblings, or become depressed, or develop behavioral problems, or consequently develop a low or a damaged self-esteem.

Recently two fathers had gotten into an argument at a youth game, each becoming the other’s trigger. Each responded in a way not appropriate to the situation. As a result a bitter fight involving a physical altercation ensued which eventually resulted in the tragic death of one father. Could any of this have been prevented? Did in fact a preexisting element, that is some amount of stress on either of these men's parts have fueled this initial disagreement turning it into an outright brawl?

Stress most often is what pushes us into a state of discomfort, an extremely uncomfortable place to be. Through the emotion of anger, we are made to feel as if we are ready to blow our top. So we may strongly feel the need to cry out, to lash out, to strike out until we no longer feel this unpleasant “out of controlled” state.

Anger is an insidious emotion, existing within us, seething like a sleeping volcano, ready to explode at a moment’s notice. We are like the earth’s crust, when we release our anger we feel a similar relief. By doing so we alleviate the buildup of stress.

But parents should be aware of what fuels their anger. Parents should accept the fact that their child’s behavior and demands will enrage them at times. But if before reacting on that anger, instead express in clear terms to a child why they are angry, the volcano inside may remain sleeping, or better yet die out.

As an example, the words “I’m not happy with the way you cleaned your room,” as opposed to “You’re nothing by a plain slob!” will let the child know he/she is not living up to expectations, at the same time the appropriate words may avoid damaging a child’s evolving self-esteem.

If and when parents lose their temper, and then realized they may have overreacted, an apology will help mend the relationship. This may also help the child realize if he/she has done something to provoke the anger, the issues can still be resolved, and consequences or whatever emotional damage that has occurred is kept minimal.

Children will then realized through this pattern of responding to anger that yes, this is an emotion we all carry within, but that it can also be safely expressed. And that the act of expressing this emotion will not necessarily result in the destruction of whatever bond exists between a parent and a child. In turn the child will then learn that whatever bonds he/she develops in future relationships can be protected from the insidious destructive nature of this emotion called anger. Children moving toward adulthood will then come to realize relationships need not be destroyed by the expression of anger, as long as the anger is expressed appropriately.