“Rage is a feeling of intense or growing anger… It is associated with the flight-or-fight response and oftentimes activated in response to an external cue, such as the murder of a loved one or some other kind of serious offense”(Wikipedia). I am here to tell you, you will feel this towards your child someday as well as somebody elses. When you do, it will not be your best parenting day, but just know, we have all been there. I don’t know what it is about seeing some other child push or hit yours, that sends you into to this “fight” response, but it does. I don’t care how much you could have liked this kid before, at that moment he/she knocks your tot to the ground, you will want to push him down even harder. Now, we adults have something called “impulse control”, so most likely you won’t… but the little guy wearing red that sits on your left shoulder will be trying to convince you otherwise. The rage towards your own child comes much later, like when they turn 3 (something I felt last night), but the rage you will feel towards other kids can start once they are mobile, and have the physical strength to carry out the assault. I know, I am sounding over dramatic, but really, you will lose it. Just like Cam did on a recent episode of Modern Family… please tell me you all saw it? It was hilarious. If not, here is the recap: In the episode Cam and Mitchell drop Lily off to her first day of kindergarten. Moments later another kindergartener pulls Lily’s hair. Cam, acting on his “fight” response, picks the boy up under his arms, stared him right in the face and said “If you ever put your hands on my daughter again, I will string you up by your feet, run you up the flagpole and let the birds peck out your eyes.” Again, most likely you won’t act on your feelings, and if you are ever having a playdate with me and my daughter, please don’t, since she will most likely be the one pushing yours.
Does anyone have the magic cure for the feisty child’s instinct to hit first, and think later? My daughter really is very sweet, most of the time, but for some reason no matter how much we (parents, and teachers) teach her the tools to not do it, she still sometimes pushes or mildly hits the child who has taken something that she deems is hers, or invades her personal space. Probably a topic for another day, but it fits in with rage because it is children, like my daughter, that you will feel it towards. The first thing we are taught at her preschool when dealing with a conflict, is to never blame, always listen, and treat each feud as a learning opportunity. The teachers tell us that “children don’t misbehave, they make mistakes (often social mistakes) and problem solving is a way for children to learn from their mistakes. If a child pushes/hits, hold them gently and say: I would not let anyone hit (push) you and I won’t let you hit (push) anyone. It is NEVER to late to talk to your child!” Remember that. Now, I realize this is more for the younger child, but with bullying and parent rage on rise, it might be worth looking at it from a learning perspective and not immediately blaming their parents or think they are an inherently BAD child, though your feelings will tell you otherwise. To quote Mitchel Adler during a lecture on Parenting with Emotional Intelligence,”It is okay to feel rage towards your child. It is natural… it is human, but just know that feelings and actions are very different!” He even asked a parent packed elementary school multi-purpose room to stand up if they had ever felt “murderous rage” towards their child. Can you believe that more than half of them stood-up and shocked to see their fellow preschool parents actually felt the same. It was very powerful! Of course, I was one of the many who was standing. Isn’t it comforting to know that you are not a horrible parent if you have felt this way. You are only a horrible parent if you act on it, duh?