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Helping our children deal with anger

“Calm down!”  How many times have we said that?  We’re probably ok telling an adult to calm down.  Adults, after all, (should) have learned how to contain their feelings and harness that energy, channeling it towards an appropriate resolution.  I am not so naïve as to think that 100% of the adults in the world have developed this skill and those that have do not use it 100% of the time.  The point is, we learn how to calm down.  Finding our center is not instinctive.  We’re wired for fight or flight.  When we become angry, frustrated, or scared our biology is such that we experience an adrenaline rush.  The knee-jerk reaction is programmed into us.

We can list a multitude of examples of that response being appropriate.  We can also, however, think of just as many times when those instinctive impulses added to the problem rather than eliminating it.  So, we learn.  We figure out that sometimes we have to avoid reacting immediately.  Most adults understand this.  Not all of us and not any of us all of the time.  Most of us, most of the time, learned how to calm down when we realize we are reacting badly.  Our children, however, are another story.

We tell our children to calm down as if they understand how to do that.  Telling a child to “settle down” or “calm down” is probably like telling an adult to create a mathematical model of stellar evolution – they don’t stand a chance unless they have been taught how to do it.  When the child fails to respond to those instructions, we start barking a different set of instructions.  “Stop yelling.”  “Stop throwing things.”  “Don’t hit.”  These are simple commands that a child can actually obey, but do they actually create a calm child?  They certainly can create the appearance of a calm child, but is the child truly calm in mind, body, and spirit?  Is our desire to teach our youngsters how to APPEAR calm or is it to teach our youngsters how to BE calm?  I hope our desire is to teach them to BE calm, to find their center.

I would like to share a technique that I have seen work successfully with a number of children – from 5 years old to pre-adolescent.  I expect it would work for teens and even for adults, but I have not had opportunity to witness it.  This is a simple ritual and no tools are required.

Face north and say,

What I feel in my body is real and it is hard to deal with.  I start dealing with it by feeling what is outside my body.  I feel the floor and the earth beneath my feet.  I can find the strength to be steady in Her.  She holds me up.”

Face east and say,

What I think in my mind is real and it is hard to deal with.  I allow a warm breeze to blow across me and through me.  The breeze blows away the harmful and negative thoughts.  Clarity remains.  She brings me wisdom.”

Face south and say,

What I want right now is real and it is hard to deal with.  I choose to burn away the fear and vengeance that burns in my belly.  The flames transform and change everything they touch so I can make better choices with my anger.  She brings me right action.”

Face west and say,

What I feel in my heart is real and it is hard to deal with.  Water finishes the transformation started in the fire.  It puts out the flame and washes the hurt feelings and hurtful wishes away.  I feel love and compassion for myself.  She brings me back to love.

Face north again.  Close your eyes and imagine being in the center of the four directions.  Know the truth of what made you angry.  Decide to change through the anger into someone better.  Dare to find love and compassion in yourself, for yourself and for the other person.


Take your time.  Be patient with yourself.  It is ok to be and think and wish and feel.  Be steady, stable.  Be thoughtful, wise.  Be transforming, purposeful.  Be loving, compassionate.


When you are ready to return to the regular world and be part of what it going on again, say

I know what happened and I am willing to act wisely.  I will act in love for the highest good of all.  I will move forward from here in harmony and balance.  As I will, so mote it be.”

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Comments

  • Terry Hurlbut - Creationism Examiner 4 years ago

    Perhaps the time taken to repeat these self-instructions serves the purpose--allowing the impulse to fade.

  • Deanna Joseph Riverside New Age Examiner 4 years ago

    I really enjoyed this article Jennifer! I was never taught to deal with anger as a child... just to stuff it! I love the opportunity to be able to show my children different alternatives - especially since I have one with quite a temper! I'll post to my facebook page too! :)

  • Scott Knutson - Philly Mystical-Spirituality Exami 4 years ago

    Interesting. I'd like to see it in action!

  • Scott Knutson - Philly Mystical-Spirituality Exami 4 years ago

    Interesting. I'd like to see this in action.

  • Jennifer Clark - Paganism Examiner 4 years ago

    Children (with adult supervision) respond well to using candles in the process described above. As a Pagan, I light a green or brown candle when I speak for North, a yellow candle for East, a red or orange candle for south, and a blue candle for west. The flames add to the calming effect -- like a meditation -- it focuses their minds. As an added bonus, the intentional manipulation of objects (the candles) tends to help them focus and calm their bodies.

  • Denise 4 years ago

    Got anything for toddlers?

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