As I tucked my ten year old into bed I noticed a picture with me in it and my face had been scratched out. This is issue number one. So I asked, “What happened to that picture?” My daughter responded with the typical “I don’t know” answer. Well, I knew what had happened, or at least I was 95% sure of what had happened. As soon as I asked her I realized I set her up to lie, which I should not have done. This is issue number two.
I was fairly certain that at some point I made her mad for something and she defaced my photo in anger. It didn’t upset me at all, I actually had flashbacks of all the things I would say and do when I was her age when my mama had made me mad. I recall thinking things like, “I hate her, she is the meanest mama ever, maybe I will run away, and then she will be sorry.” But then I immediately would change my thoughts to, “Oh no, what if she died.” And then I would start to cry. Oh the lovely thought processes of a young child.
So let’s revisit the issues, issue number one was that my daughter had tried to ruin my face in a picture when she was mad at me. This is absolutely normal and not the least bit surprising. She had made an impulsive decision out of anger and now regretted it and wished she could take it back. What she had initially done was put white out on my face and then when her anger ceased she tried to scratch it off, completely ruining the photo.
I used this as an opportunity to talk to her about how it is ok to be angry and mad but to consider the consequences of her choices or actions. Now she regrets ruining the picture and wishes she could take it back. It is my hope that when she is older and faced with impulse decisions she will stop and remember that her choices will determine her experiences.
www.helpyourchildwithanger.com states that “The most effective anger management comes from recognizing the difference between Reacting and Responding. What’s the difference between reacting to a situation or responding to it? The answer is simple: a lot! A reaction is often a quick, rash action that does little or nothing to remedy the original situation. A response is more calculated; it is thought before action. Reacting and responding are two totally different ways to deal with an anger situation.”
Issue number two was, I set my child up to tell me a lie. It is like asking a child with their face covered in chocolate and crumbs if they ate the cookies out of the jar. Well duh, of course they did so why are you asking, knowing that most children are going to respond by saying NO.
www.truthaboutdeception.com, shares, between the ages of two to three, children start lying when they break established rules. By age five children get quite adept at being able to successfully lie to others. Not only are children predisposed to using deception, but more often than not, children learn this behavior at home.
Children watch their parents lie and they are explicitly taught to lie by their parents. What parent has not lied to a child in order to prevent him (or her) from knowing an unpleasant truth (“everything will be ok”), or taught their children to lie to someone they love (“tell grandma how much you love the gift”) or instructed a child to lie on their behalf (“tell them I’m too busy right now”)?
A better choice of words could have been for me to say, “I see my picture is messed up, I must have made you really mad sometime for you to have done that,” then proceeded with the conversation about it being ok to be angry. Not all anger is acceptable, below are some warning signs to be aware of:
What are the signs that tell you your child needs professional help?
-Anger in the child becomes severe; he tears up his books and breaks things in the house.
-The child’s behavior poses a danger to himself and others.
-Anger in the child is sustained, lasting for an hour or more.
-Teachers at your child’s school have voiced concern over his anger and behavior.
-The child has performed acts of violence against others (like setting fire in school or torturing animals).
Deborah Howell is the Assistant Director of Partners In Learning. Her education includes an associate’s degree from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in early childhood education and a bachelor’s degree from UNC Greensboro in human development and family studies with a concentration in birth-kindergarten. She also holds a master’s degree at UNCG. She also serves as a CBRS therapist for the center.