Yesterday, as I was making Wil’s lunch, I asked him to wash his hands. He looked at me, and in defiance, yelled, “NO WASH HANDS!”
His beloved Annie’s Mac n Cheese was on the menu, so asking him to leave the room to wash his hands was out of the question.
I calmly replied, “Then no lunch.”
He immediately turned that defiant attitude around, and sweetly said, “Wash my hands” and off he went.
“Thank you, Wil.”
Big smile, “You are welcome, Mommy.”
Little charmer, that one
Since Wil’s vocabulary has increased, and he is realizing the power of it, these types of conversations are more frequent. He will get angry if things aren’t going his way, but can just as easily make a change in attitude if he can see the outcome will not be in his favor.
Somewhere along the way, this quick change in attitude kids are able to make becomes very difficult for us adults. We easily stay stuck on who is right or wrong, and are really good at holding grudges. We lose focus on finding solutions to the problem that brought us the anger in the first place.
Its much easier to get angry and stay angry, even though looking for alternatives to achieve our desired outcome will benefit us in the long run.
Sure, the triggers to our anger surround much bigger issues than getting our Mac n Cheese for lunch, but the base concept is still the same. If things aren’t going in our favor, the immediate reaction is typically anger.
How many times have you gotten angry and it changed things for the better? Probably not many.
Anger is a natural emotion, and it spurs us to action. But, once we feel the burn of anger, as difficult as it is when we are fuming with it, it greatly benefits us to take a moment to step back from the situation and see what it is we are really wanting.
We need to remember, no matter how wronged we may have been, we do not have the ability to change others. What we do have, is the ability to change and refocus our attitudes.
There are typically many solutions to a problem. Anger keeps our focus on what we aren’t getting, rather than using our creative ability to see alternative options.
Wil could have gotten stuck on who was right or wrong. He could argue that he’d be eating with a spoon, not with his hands. Besides, a few germs will help build his immunity. Geez, mom, lighten up!
He could have angrily stomped off to wash his hands, and then not enjoyed his lunch as he fumed in anger over the unfairness of it all. He could have submissively gone off to wash his hands, feeling controlled and defeated. He could have planted himself on the floor and sat unmoving in anger not eating his lunch to get back at me.
Rather, he stepped out of his anger and thought about what he really wanted, made a complete change in attitude, and received what he wanted with positive results.
Even though this is an oversimplified example of larger issues we adults face, the basic premise is still the same.
Staying in anger, and focusing on who is right or wrong, rarely ends receiving our desired outcome. A change in attitude gives us the ability to focus on what we really want, and remain open to finding alternative ways to achieve our goals with positive results.