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Throwing Anger in the Garbage

June 15, 2011
Angry little blonde-haired girl wearing orange and green

Laila was becoming more and more frustrated and it had led to her being angry. Her frustration was due to Gracie teasing her, or me being busy and not responding to her right away. She became conditioned to getting attention by whining, crying, or getting mad. Then I would react and she would get in trouble for the whining or for being mad. It just made her madder.

Over time I could see that her response had become a habit that we had created. The first step was to take away things that were frustrating her, at least as much as we could. I talked to Gracie (big sister) about the problem and we agreed to do all we could to help Laila.

The second step was to figure out how to break the angry response that she had learned to use to get attention. I knew that spanking her and other types of discipline would not be productive. I asked God for wisdom to help my little girl to learn to control her emotional reactions of anger. The next time Laila got angry I set her on the couch and told her that anger was a bad thing. I explained that anger made little girls not be sweet and that anger wanted to hurt her and be mean to her. I told her that Mama wanted to get that anger and throw it in the garbage where it belonged, so that it could not hurt my sweet girl anymore. I told Laila that we could tickle it out of her, or kiss it out, or spank it out, depending on how much anger was there. The whole concept caught her imagination. She told me that she thought we should tickle it out of her. I agreed. She was smiling and I was laughing by the time I started tickling while chanting, “Anger, Anger, go away, do not come back to hurt Laila any day, you mean old ugly anger.”

Gracie knew I had been thinking about what to do about Laila’s anger so when she walked in she quickly followed my lead by running to hide in the closet. I asked Laila, “Where do you think the anger is? Do you have anger still in your heart?”

“No,” she said, “it is in the closet.” So I grabbed my switch and off to the closet we ran. Out jumped Gracie, screaming like she was angry. I proceeded to chase her through the house with Laila right behind me. We chanted, “Let’s get that anger and throw it away.” We caught Gracie and tickled her to the ground. It was all great fun.

The next day Laila shut her finger in the door. She ran to the couch and sat down with her arms crossed like she was mad. To my shame I was cooking and not paying attention again. She looked up and said, “Mama I think you need to spank the anger that is in my heart and make it run away.” She was so sincere, it was so cute. I stopped cooking and asked her, “Do you have anger in your heart?”

She said, “Yes.”

I grinned at her as I said, “Then I will kiss it out of you.” I started kissing and hugging her and she started laughing while trying to talk, “My anger is gone. I think it jumped into the garbage can.”

We have been chasing and kissing and tickling and even, at times, when the anger is really awful and it will not run away I have to spank it out. Now, three weeks later, there is less and less anger and she tells me that anger cannot hurt her anymore. Some days when I see frustration begin to build in her I catch her in my arms and spin in circles while saying, “Go away, Anger, and leave my little girl alone.” She knows my heart is to bless her and make her life better, so she responds to that caring call. There have been several times now that I have seen an angry response coming and told her, “Remember, Anger wants to hurt you; do not let it grab you. Ask Mama for help and push that anger away.” Over and over I have seen her gain control of her negative emotions. She is learning self-control. This training will follow her all her life. She will be healthier, happier and a greater blessing to others for learning self-control. ☺

 

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18 comments on “Throwing Anger in the Garbage”

  1. Thank you very much for sharing this wisdom---I need much help dealing with these situations and will use this on my 2 children! Keep up the awesome sharing and ideas.....

  2. Beautiful! I teach 10-14-yr olds in L.A.'s public schools. The students really frustrate me when they act out. I want to learn how to deal w/this and not yell. It's only a few kids each class, but I let them ruin my day. Good for Laila & Family. I wish I were like you.

  3. Oh, good! Just the article I needed to read. We've got the SAME THING over here, but I was uncertain if using a kissing/joking method would "count". But I agree that if the training goal is teaching self-control, this might work. I cannot wait to try it.

  4. Thank you. We have been going over our letters, colors and number when my little one gets upset and he throws a fit. I will try your method as well. Even though he is not as frustrated or angry as much this might be just what is needed to put it in the garbage can after all.

  5. follow-up: well, that technique failed spectacularly! I'm going to give it a few more days. Then I guess it will be back to the beatings will continue until morale improves. Keep up the good work! Glad to know it is working somewhere, at least! : )

  6. How does a mom stay calm while in the throws of morning sickness with the stress of moving and trying to mother 4 children 7 and under? I'm so frustrated with myself for being such a bad example to my kids lately. beyond tiard and so stressed. Praying and reading the Word...

  7. Kristi, I would suggest you get some herbs to help with your pregnancy. Get the stress buster, too. And I would say you should sit down with your children at the table and tell them that you are sorry that you have been a grumpy mama, and that everyone in the family needs to work on being happy. And see what things in your life you can cut out. If you're too tired to be a good mama, then there are things you're doing that you need to quit! I don't care if it's church work or family stuff or whatever. Your first duty is to be a good wife and mama.

  8. I like this idea and intend to try it, but aren't you afraid you're rewarding negative behavior? That's my only concern with this; that it might teach them that showing anger is how I get affection from Mommy. My instinct is that this concern is wrong and your method it still a good idea, but I can't seem to explain why. Any thoughts on whether this violate the child training rule of making all negative behavior counter productive?

  9. Hello

    Thanks for sharing this article. Our eldest son, 7, is very healthy but has anger and impulse control issues ( he hurts his siblings even though he was taught not to do so. We are desperate to have him listen and be more obedient. He has been diagnosed with multiple issues like ADHD, ADD, sensory and OCD. He was not immunized and we try to avoid junk food. We would appreciate any tips/ideas and your prayers.

    Thank you
    JC

  10. I agree with Jennifer above. We have the same issue with our youngest daughter, 6 yo. I understand the principle of it but it feels like its rewarding bad behavior. It seems that the child is being rewarded for whining and a grumpy attitude which is just the opposite of making negative behavior go away by NOT rewarding it. Am I missing something here?

  11. While I find the technique intriguing, I also don't want to teach my children that anger is wrong. The Bible says "Be angry and sin not". Anger is not wrong, it's what is done with that anger that becomes the sin. Jesus was angry on many occasions in scripture but he did not sin in His anger. So, as parents I think we should be correcting the response, not the anger.

  12. Thank you Shalom for this great article! My 4 yo daughter has daily whining & tantrum episodes. It results in time out or a spanking. In the midst of correction I find myself using a loud, unpleasant tone of voice. Both of us need to change our behavior and responses. I am looking forward to trying this! I will do a follow-up comment also.

  13. I need help. Me and my son are battling. I continue to try to win his love, trust and affection. But when he gets in a mood it continues to get worse and worse. If i prescribed hard work as a discipline, he does around and drags his feet. If i spAnk him for it, he glared at me like I'm an evil witch and says my spankings are going nothing. Which clearly is true. He's 11 by the way. I love him and am so confused. He shows no repentance ever for being rebellious. I can count on one hand he's ever sAid he was sorry. He always pretends to not know why he was in trouble. Please i desire the real and raw truth. How can i get him to obey and not hate me?!

  14. YAAAAAY FOR THE PEARLS! This was exactly what I needed right now! This has kinda been at the back of my mind for a while now. I thought it was a different problem (requiring a different fix) but now I can see the problem more clearly, THANK YOU! Of course, there will still be other things to fix up (like attidute/whining) but I'm SOOO glad I read this! Thanks Again!

  15. I think you should be showing the enough affection that they don't feel like they need to resort to anger to get it.

    But yes, I would also love any other answer the Pearls have to this.