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Children's Anger - what's OK?

(9 Posts)
Earlybird Sat 05-Feb-05 14:16:55

Just put dd (nearly 4) into timeout for bad behaviour. She misplaced a favourite item. I stopped to look for it, couldn't find it and told her she might have to do without it until it turned up. She got very wound up, and hit me as I was looking under her bed. I stood up (item located, and in hand), calmly told her that she should never hit mummy and told her to say sorry. She mumbled a sullen and completely false "sorry", and then immediately asked for a video. I told her that we wouldn't be having a video as she'd hit mummy and it wasn't a nice thing to do. She completely fell apart and started yelling "I want a video!" at me over and over. I repeated why we wouldn't be having a video and told her she needed to stay in her room until she calmed down because it was not acceptable to hit/shout at mummy. (Is this how those "brat camp" kids started out??) She stayed in her room sobbing for about 10 minutes (door open so she could have come out earlier).

She has been sick with cold/cough most of this week so is not quite herself, and I've just put her down for a nap as she is quite tired. But, it's still no justification for hitting/shouting at a parent.

I've been thinking - it's absolutely not acceptable for a child to yell or hit, but what is an acceptable way for them to express anger/frustration? And I say this as a person who was never allowed to be angry as a child, and I still have trouble expressing anger even now as an adult. I realise I spend time telling her what's not allowed, but then don't give her other acceptable options for expressing her anger/frustration. Help Please from those of you who don't bottle it all up inside!

NotQuiteCockney Sat 05-Feb-05 14:31:51

Good question. DS1 is 3y4m, and he also has anger issues sometimes. Particularly if I get angry at him. I try to always discipline with calmness, lots of boring chats, but if he does something really alarming (walking into road, or running off), I do sometimes shout at him a bit. Then he gets upset. Then he gets cranky at me.

Although I don't like him shouting, I think children shouting is ok, within reason. Stomping about and pouting are also ok, within reason.

He does tend to express his exasperation by using slow. calm. deliberate. commands. Much as I do to him, which is fair enough.

colditzmum Sat 05-Feb-05 14:38:06

Give her a pillow tyo hit, or buy her a punch bag. I have huge problems with "Inner Rage" and these things really help me. I din't think you can expect anyone to completely control their anger, all the time, especially not a 4 year old. I don't think most 4 year olds are able to control themselves. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Amanda3266 Sat 05-Feb-05 14:39:43

Hi Earlybird,

Firstly - you did the right thing in not giving in. Hitting you is not a reasonable action.
Having watched the "Little Angels" series avidly it seems that when children hit you then it is necessary to use Time Out. Which you did - she stayed in her room and got no attention from you.

When she wakes up and is ready to play I'd suggest playing with her and really take an active interest in what she does - really reward her with lots of attention. The idea being to reinforce the good and reasonable behaviour with lots of attention and ignore when she's behaving in a way you don't like.
At 4 it's quite okay for her to shout and scream at times (I still do this occasionally at 39 ). Ignore this as much as possible, don't argue with her as this attention just rewards it. She'll get a clear message that while she can scream and shout (and express her anger) she won't actually get any rewarding attention for doing so. However, hitting you is unacceptable and if she does this she goes into Time Out for 4 minutes.
She'll gradually grow out of it as she finds better ways of expressing herself.

Hope that helps a bit


Lonelymum Sat 05-Feb-05 14:41:50

I agree that it is not on to hit, but I don't know that it is always wrong to shout. We are all different of course, but I am the sort of person who finds a good rant makes me feel a lot better and calmer and I don't suppress the same behaviour in my children if they want to let off steam in that way. That is not to say I tolerate abusive language or anything like that, but if they are just expressing themselves in a non confrontational way, that wouldn't bother me.

NotQuiteCockney Sat 05-Feb-05 14:46:04

I distinguish between shouting, and shouting at someone. I don't ever shout at DH, and I very rarely shout at DS1 - I'd rather never shout at him, and I hope to get down to never over the next few years. But to have a bit of a rant and a shout about something, and not at someone, is fine.

So if DS1 has a stomp about the living room shouting about the bad weather, that's fine. I might even join him. But if he decides to shout at me because I'm trying to dress him, that's not as good (although still miles better than hitting me, which he sometimes resorts to!).

Earlybird Sat 05-Feb-05 15:53:29

Thanks for your thoughts/responses.

NotQuiteCockney - good points. I guess where I get confused is the fact that she WAS angry with me because I was denying her the video. She was shouting at ME. So, where does the line get drawn? Should I stand on principal and say that "she shouldn't speak to an adult" that way? I think what's hard too is that events/consequences unfolded because of her behaviour - and things were said/done that I didn't think I could overlook. But I also want her to know that she can be angry without being punished - that there are acceptable/appropriate ways to be angry with your mum. But what are they? Not even I know....

colditzmum - thanks for the punching bag/pillow idea. Will think about that one.

Amanda3266 - I had just finished doing a sticker book with her, so she wasn't starved of attention. Think that she probably was cold-y/tired, and didn't cope well with her lots toy and no video. But, just to be clear, are you suggesting that I let her rant/rave (not hit), and simply ignore her? I'll give that some thought too....

NotQuiteCockney Sat 05-Feb-05 16:21:20

I tend to say "we don't do shouting in this house". (Frankly, I can think of some situations in which shouting at adults is ok ...) But to me, shouting is in the "things we talk about" category, not the "things we punish for", you know? I'm not happy to be shouted at, but if it's in moderation, I'll cope, or more likely, wander off to another room or ignore him.

I think shouting at me is something I'll have less tolerance for when he's bigger. I don't see myself putting up with actual abuse from him. But at this point, he is inclined to say, in an exasperated tone "you're not my friend". Or "you're not coming to my birthday party" (to which I reply, "oh, who's doing the cake then?"), both of which I take pretty calmly.

Amanda3266 Sat 05-Feb-05 18:09:20

Yep! Just ignore the ranting and raving. She'll soon find better ways of expressing herself. I think you're right about the cold. Poor little mite is probably still feeling a bit under the weather. Hitting out seems quite a common action from children. My DS hasn't done it yet (only 2). However, he does bang his head on the floor if in a real temper

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