You Made Me Angry

Written by Christy Whitman December 2, 2012

One day, Maxim and Alex were playing in Maxim’s bedroom. Alex was lining up cars in a row as if they were in traffic. Maxim, being the little instigator that he is, came by and knocked the cars out of alignment after Alex had worked so hard to get them straight and perfect.

Alex then said to Maxim, “You make me angry.”

Now, while this is great that at 3 ½ years old he was able to identify his emotion and express it, this was once again a teachable moment.

I told him, “Alex, no one can make you feel angry. You are choosing to be angry. When you feel sad, you choose that emotion. When you feel happy, you choose that emotion. So since you choose how you want to feel, what do you choose?”

He then took a moment to think about that and he then exclaimed, “HAPPY!”
We have to realize, and also help our children realize, that no one can make us feel a certain way. Our feelings are our own, and we need to take responsibility for how we decide we feel.

Emotions are so important because if we continue to feel bad, we attract negative things into our lives. If we feel good, we will experience more good. We need to honor and acknowledge our emotions, feel them, express them in a healthy way (owning that we feel a certain way and not that others are making us feel that way), and then release them. When we as parents can teach our children to do this by being the example, they will grow up being more effective communicators.

In the same vain, Frederic got irritated with Alex because Alex was getting excited playing with a car, and it hit Frederic in the face. He took him into his room to think about what he did. When Alex came back in the room he told me, “Mommy, Daddy hurt me.” I said, “He hurt you physically, like you have a boo-boo?” And he said, “No, he hurt my feelings.” So here was another teachable moment to communicate. I told him to tell Frederic.

Alex said to Frederic, “You hurt my feelings.”

I explained to him that he is choosing to be hurt and to own how he is feeling. “I feel sad, or I feel hurt.”

It is important to teach “I” language instead of “you” language. When we are communicating with our partners or our children and being a model for them, we need to come from the “I.” “I feel angry. I feel disrespected.” Instead of blaming the other person, “You made me angry. You disrespected me.”

This ensures that the other person will hear you and not feel blamed for something they can’t ever take credit for, and know that is how you are feeling.

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