There are ten characteristics that create how one views the world and handles adversity. Number two on the list that we will discuss today is when you are angry you are not able to analyze and think logically about the problem at hand. Not thinking clearly comes in three different ways.
First it may show up by not wanting to talk about the problem or the situation. The reason the angry child or adult does not want to have a discussion is that this would mean acknowledging the role they play in the situation. Unwilling to admit to their weaknesses and being uncomfortable with answering questions they would prefer to stick to the blame game. It is easier to blame the other person than talking about it and having to bear some of the responsibility. As they use these avoidance tactics they continue the cycle and never have a chance to learn from their mistakes. In line with our earlier discussion of the 4 steps of anger it goes like this. (a) the angry person cannot solve the problem so their failures and frustrations grow , buildup. (b) the spark can be anything that leads the person to an explosion where they blame anyone or everyone around them. (c) those that are blamed do not like to be around the angry person and so they are pushed away and the angry person feels a victory and justified. (d) if anyone tries to talk about the situation the attempts are rebuffed (e) since there was no resolution the problem serves as the buildup for the next explosion. We can help our children out of this cycle by helping them to see the rewards of discussing problems in a calm and upbeat manner. Trying to do this though with a particular angry event will probably not work, but doing so using other examples will be the stepping stone to better conversations.
Second it may show up with weak thinking or circular thinking. Have you ever found someone who is angry that could only remember in detail what the other person did but very little about how they contributed to the situation? The reason is that they are focused on their defense and attack and are otherwise blind to everything else going on around them. Even if they do remember they will magnify the details in a manner to support their own viewpoint. So when we hear the account from their point of view it does not even sound like we saw the same situation. How do we solve this? We must teach our children problem solving skills. Here are three steps to take with your child or the angry person. (a) gather all the facts (b) show them another point of view (c) and then help them to see how their actions had affect on their actions and or the solutions. Problem solving skills need to be taught though on a daily basis with things that they are not intimately involved with. Using movies or TV shows and asking them to anticipate what is going to happen next and then follow through with the results. Or a board game that you can demonstrate how if you move here or there this will happen. Some children have problems solving problems because their parents do too. So work on it together and use the resources available to you including social workers and psychologists to learn problem solving skills and then you will be able to help your children too.
Third it may show up due to confusing feelings with facts. Emotions have a powerful influence on our thinking. Have you ever noticed that if someone is in love the person they are in love with can do no wrong – but later the same person who could do no wrong can do nothing right if the original party is angry or upset with them. This is the idea of confusing feelings with facts. While this is tough enough for adults this is very difficult for children. There is a difference though between feelings and thinking. You may have a feeling based on a partial truth that could easily lead you to a wrong conclusion. Children need to learn as do all of us that people can fiew the same situation in differnt ways and have different feelings about them and neither person be more right than the other person. Teaching our children about feelings and all the different ways we can feel and how they are different for every person is very important in overcoming this confusion of feelings and facts.
Setting a good example and showing our children how it works is the best way to learn to think things through and not react in strong angry ways.