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Discipline & Safety        < Previous        Next >


Proving That Anger is Rotten


Q. My "tween" son is mad at the world a lot of the time. He's mad at us. He's mad at his brother. He's mad at his teacher. He's mad at his friend. He's mad at his coach. He never actually has it out with any of them; he just gets mad and stays mad. Then we all suffer from his moodiness and unhappiness. I know some of this adolescent angst is normal. But how can I get him to lighten up on life, and start to take control over his tendency toward negative emotions?


Here's a unique way to give a child an unforgettable demonstration of how harmful it is to let angry feelings fester - and get your fridge fresh and clean at the same time:


Set out a glass of milk, a piece of bread and a small block of cheese on your kitchen counter. Put a note next to these items, labeling them as "anger."


Now just leave them there on the counter at room temperature for just as long as your family can stand it. Let the kids get a good whiff of how bad that milk begins to smell. Make sure they see the ugly mold that forms on the bread and cheese.


That's what happens to you when you let negative feelings and unresolved bitterness fester inside you. Teach your kids that anger, like all other negative emotions, needs immediate attention and action to put a stop to it, or life will begin to get stinky and icky.


Anger is actually good for you, if it prompts necessary positive action or change. But like milk, bread and cheese, feelings can wind up going sour if they aren't dealt with. And, like food in a refrigerator, feelings must be kept cool or they'll start to stink and look ugly. Rotten food doesn't do anybody any good, and it's the same thing with the rotten emotion of unresolved anger.


Next time your child gets angry, clean out the refrigerator together. Talk about what went wrong and what your child can try next time. Dispose of spoiled leftovers - and yucky feelings - at the same time. Then both your fridge and your child's heart will be fresh and clean.


Homework: Here's a kid-friendly website on anger management for kids with more good tips:


By Susan Darst Williams Discipline & Safety 02 2008


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