Friday, 18 September 2009

The Heart of Anger (3)

I am still reading the Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo.  I have written about the first two chapters here, and the third and fourth chapters here.  It's not a particularly difficult book to read, in fact it's quite easy.  I've just had a break for a while.

The fifth chapter puts the third and fourth chapters into practise; showing what it might look like to be training a child to communicate respectfully and gently after an initial response of anger using all three forms of communication (words, tone and body language).

He suggests moving a child through these steps;
  1. acknowledging that their reponse was sinful (there is an extensive but apparently not exhaustive list of examples of such found in scripture);
  2. asking for forgiveness;
  3. rehearsing an alternative way to respond ensuring that words, tone and body language is appropriate.
I appreciated the examples he gave of what to say in such times.  It's easy to know that's what I ought to do, but if I don't know a better response there is no way I could teach my children a better way to respond, particularly in a situation where I myself may be struggling to respond in right (and not sinful) ways.

I also appreciated the breadth of those examples for what a child might say in response.  It wasn't just "yes Mum, whatever you say, Mum" but a serious attempt to help a child express what he or she is thinking or feeling. 

He encourages recongnising exactly how the response was sinful and identifying the particular sin.  I think the helpfulness of this would depend on the age of the child and particular situation.  Sometimes a simple "unhelpful" or "unkind" might be enough.  Sometimes some time alone before implementing the steps above might be necessary for both parties to calm down!

I also admire the way he is making a serious attempt to understand what scripture says about how we relate to one another and the effect of our words and our anger on others and use this understanding to guide his method.

I'm going to read the chapter again.


Tim Adeney said...

Hi Rach,

We've found this helped our girls when we were going to leave a friends house. They would often be tired, had had lots of fun, and would really not want to go home - so we would give them words like "I had a really good time, I'm really sad we have to go, I really look forward to seeing you again soon' - it seemed that giving voice to how they felt helped dissipate the anger.


Rachael said...

I found it really helpful when they were little to "give them words" to help them, but seem to have forgotten it as they have gotten older... somehow I seem to expect them to know and remember everything!