Aloha Friday: Dealing With Strong Emotions
You might not know it from talking to me in person, but I can have some pretty strong emotions. However, over the years, I’ve learned to keep them bottled up. It might not be the healthiest thing to do, but it is what my life experiences taught me to do. Now NHL is showing some of the same strong emotions that I have felt and I’m struggling with teaching him how to manage them.
First, a bit of personal history. In High School, I was mercilessly teased. Kids would follow me from class to class making fun of me for just about anything, including attempting to avoid them. They would even position themselves in the doorway to my classroom so I couldn’t get in. My mother would tell me not to let them bother me and my father told me to fight back. Given the conflicting advice, I didn’t know what to do. I did fight back every so often, but it didn’t seem to help. Since showing any anger at them only encouraged more teasing, I learned to suppress all displays of emotion. I wasn’t completely successful with it, of course. One time, when my entry to class was blocked, I literally saw red. Before I could do anything, though, the teacher arrived and scattered my tormentors. (My bully-ridden days in school might be the subject of future blog posts. It should be very cathartic to write about them.)
Even nowadays, if I’m fighting with B over something and I feel myself getting angry, I get quiet. I’m deathly afraid that my anger will take over and I’ll shout something hurtful that I really don’t mean. I’d rather keep quiet, holding my anger in, than risk hurting B like that. No, it’s not healthy, but it’s the way I’ve learned to deal with the anger.
Going back to NHL, he seems to show a lot of anger. Oftentimes, he’ll want to do something and we tell him "not right now." This triggers a screaming fit from him. Sending him to his room for doing something wrong leads to screams of "I don’t love you!", "I hate you!" and "YOU GO TO YOUR ROOM!!!!" Clearly, NHL is having difficulty controlling his anger. I’ve talked with him about how being angry like that doesn’t help matters. That it is ok to feel angry, but letting it consume you like that does more harm than good.
Another emotion that NHL and I have in abundance seems to be sadness. In my case, it mainly occurred in college. This was mostly due to my dating life. Or should I say my lack of a dating life. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that I went all through college without going on a single date. It’s not that I didn’t try to get a date. However, the girls that I asked out were invariably interested in me as a friend only. So while I saw couples all around me happily spending time together, I had no one.
Like the anger, I tried to keep the sadness to myself. It did bubble to the surface from time to time. One time leading me to cry in the middle of a Hillel bus trip. Luckily, the trip was our return trip from seeing the Holocaust Museum and people assumed that I was crying over the exhibits. (Partly true. I think the exhibits pushed me to the edge and the sadness of seeing some happy couples on the bus ride back pushed me over the edge.)
NHL exhibits some of this extreme sadness as well. When sent to his room, if he’s not screaming at us, he’ll start sobbing that he’s never going to get out and he’s never going to get to do anything fun ever again.
I want to teach NHL to deal with his emotions in a more productive fashion than I’ve learned how to. So my Aloha Friday question for the week is: What do you do when you are extremely angry or sad? How do you teach your child to deal with anger/sadness?
Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the MckLinky there if you are participating.