Too often, the difficulties that come between parents and their defiant children can be reduced quickly by the parents, although it’s not easy. One of these difficulties is anger, an emotion that throws up more road blocks to relationships than anything else.
Stopped by a Tree
I receive a lot of email from parents. Anger at their children is a common tone. I’ve also seen it in my office. Anger is extremely counterproductive to the process of healing and the re-establishment of a working relationship. Anger verifies and often “feeds” the defiant behavior of children and teens, making it worse.
I understand the anger; I can identify with it as a parent. But anger is like a huge tree that has fallen onto a railroad track. It’s going to stop trains in both directions. All progress comes to a halt until someone gets the tree off the track. Who’s going to move the tree? A parent can wait on a defiant youngster to move it. Good luck on that one.
Psychologist Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len teaches about “limits” that exist between individuals and serve to choke out the relationship. (Limits, and how to manage them, is a central theme in my new book, The Changing Behavior Book.) Staying angry is one huge limit. Here are three components of resolving anger (and other limits as well) I complied after learning of Dr. Hew Len’s work:
- True peace and change begin with me. Anger ultimately destroys the vessel that carries it. Although anger has short-term benefits, it produces devastating long-term pain and difficulty. No one should wait for others to ease their anger.
- I cannot pass of in blame what is my responsibility to change. This takes a ton of courage and self-examination, but it’s so powerful.
- I must clear away (clean) the limits that exist between me and others. In other words, it takes more than recognizing the limits are there and that I created many of them; I must take the active step to remove as many of them as I can.
Reference: Vitale, J., Hew Len, I., Zero limits. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2007.
A nationally recognized child and adolescent psychologist, author and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is in demand for his expertise on emotionally and behaviorally troubled youngsters, and his skill for sharing it. He the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network, a popular internet radio program supporting young people and their families, and every month he publishes The Changing Behavior Digest, offering tips on managing difficult children and teens. Both resources (and others) are available at no cost through his website, http://www.DocSpeak.com.