Controlled responses are good to model

September 15, 2011|Lisa Prejean

The other day I was driving through town when I came upon a construction crew that was partially blocking the road. I slowly maneuvered around the crew as carefully as I could.

Apparently, I was maneuvering too slowly and too carefully for the car behind me, which quickly and carelessly whipped around the other side of my van. That car took off before I knew what happened, but not before I saw the fuming look on the driver's face and the not-so-nice gesture he flipped in my direction.

Hmmm ... anger is alive and well in our society.

That was my first thought.

Then I started thinking about how unjustified that guy was in his frustration. Why wouldn't he be careful when people are working alongside the road? Those workers are someone's husband, son, brother, friend.

Be careful around them, bud.

And flipping the finger? Seriously? How juvenile is that?

Hmph. People like that cause accidents. Their road rage is inexcusable.

They make me so, so, so ... mad.

Oh, dear.

Isn't it interesting how anger often breeds anger?

Breaking out of that vicious cycle is not an easy task, but we need to make a concentrated effort. If we don't, our children will grow up learning that having the last word is the only way to handle conflict.

It would be nice to have a Bluetooth-like device containing this recorded message: "A soft answer turns away wrath."

If we could push a button and hear that proverb recited whenever we were tempted to spout off, we could avoid a lot of problems.

In order to raise children who have temperance, or self-control, we must be in control of our responses.

In "The Heart of Anger," author Lou Priolo offers these tips to parents:

 We shouldn't discipline when we're angry. An angry parent will tend to over-discipline. The child might perceive this approach as a personal attack.

 We need to admit when we're wrong, and our kids need to hear us ask for forgiveness from them and from others. If we act as if we never do anything wrong, our kids won't want to talk to us about their problems. They'll think it's no use.

 We need to find less fault and give more praise. Anger will be present in a child who feels that he can never do enough to please his parents.

 We need to listen to our child's opinion. By understanding his perspective, we can guide him in making the right choices.

 We need to make time just to talk to our kids. They need to feel that they have a listening ear whenever one is needed.

Replying to anger with anger is an expected response.

Let's do the unexpected today.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at

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