Encourage a child to use writing to release hostility
Pent up anger in kids is difficult to vent without causing other damage. To release hostility, a child might be better off writing about the event and may gain a reusable outlet for rage. Additional physical or emotional harm is prevented and the child can deal more effectively with similar events in the future.
In order to release hostility through writing, children will need to see the value in directing their anger through imagery. It may first entail a discussion and some memorable revelations, but eventually, brief, choppy outbursts can be molded into more coherent thought, and finally put on paper.
Kids, and some adults, get angry in an instant and over minor events, but they can rarely express their thoughts clearly. The emotions are wrapped up into many related notions that merely become babbling sessions. The idea of setting an objective toward writing the thoughts down to form some mental picture of what happened can slow the cascade of emotions and clarify those that remain.
Granted, the technique may not produce a work of art, but the experience will prove helpful and can be attempted again and again. Some parents have had success keeping a pencil and paper at the ready to present them to their child if an episode erupts. The child may actually begin writing, or the appearance of the items alone is enough to diffuse the emotions.
The idea of introducing another target of their attention is not new. In the simplest of cases, the introduction of a non-related adult between a complaining child and parent can have a diffusing effect as well. The third party has little to gain, serves as a sounding board, and can offer some support and understanding. The issue may not get resolved, but the anger may get addressed.
To release hostility in a public place becomes more difficult for the parent. They may be more restricted in their efforts to restrain or punish the child. Instead, they resort to embarrassing the child as they themselves have just been embarrassed. One big happy family, don't you know. In either case, the damage had likely been done long ago, and parent and child were not ready for the outing.
Set the stage and issue the appropriate warnings so everyone knows the ground rules upon reaching the destination. If you say that there will be consequences... there had better be, or the child is sure to repeat the outbursts.
Have you ever noticed how a child misbehaves in a grocery store far worse when both parents are around? The child plays one off against the other in order to get their way. This is where communication between the parents is vital. A grocery store is no place for a negotiation, and dare I say, no place for kids either. Establish rules between the two of you so the child has no recourse but to behave or stay with grandma.
If a child can use writing to release hostility, you have achieved something worthwhile. We've all seen the odd TV show where a child's teacher shows mom and dad the latest sketch... not always flattering... perhaps a little angry... always enlightening. Writing can accomplish even more, and although a picture may be worth a thousand words, I'd prefer the message in words when it comes to helping our kids.
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