A wise man once told me that I can only conquer anger with calm. As a teenager I didn’t really understand the message. I went around trying to force my opinion and points of view. I had many internal struggles that sometimes manifested as anger and self-hatred. But I made sure that this anger was at least channeled as a motivator towards achieving some of my goals. It worked for a while, until I made the realization that with calmness comes clarity, and with clarity comes focus, and with focus comes efficiency. So how does one apply this when raising kids?
Lets assume a hypothetical situation where you decide to teach a child the basic values forgiveness, honesty, and integrity. You make sure that you explain them as simply as you can, and that they understand their importance. Then one day, your child steals some candy. This makes you furious. You over analyze the situation, and suddenly you’re concerned that if you do not fix this right now then your child might end up in jail one day. You scream at them, scare them and punish them, so that they would never ever think of doing it again. In a way you have gotten the message across, but has the child really understood honesty? Have you shown an example of any of the values you are trying to teach? Integrity? Forgiveness? The answer is definitely no.You let anger manifest and present itself as a viable solution.
Now lets take a deep breath, calm down and clarify. This time you decide to take a different route. Firstly, you admit that you are angry and forgive yourself because it is not your fault, and in doing so you also forgive them. The purpose of forgiveness is not to discharge someone of the wrongs, but to free yourself from the pain and the anger that is keeping you stuck. When you forgive, you are better able to let go of the past and keep moving forward.
The second thing you do is you find time to explain; you take this opportunity to show them the lesson. You share stories of people they should look up to, people with values. Set the example of living authentically and honestly. This keeps our hearts and souls pure, and our minds free of doubt. When we are honest, we know we are doing the right things.
The last thing you do is you help them take responsibility. You guide them, fuel them and give them the necessary courage to right their wrong. Integrity is not measured by what happens to us, but rather by how we react and respond to what happens to us.
Sometimes we confuse aggression with strength and restraint with weakness; in fact, the opposite is true. So never let anger be the fuel, it should be mindfully acknowledged, absorbed and replaced with calmness. Only then will you react positively.