The Daily Groove

The Roots of Violence

Nothing is more natural than for a child to become angry when his or her intention is thwarted. Anger is a reaction to perceived entrapment or disempowerment; it activates the body's primal energies for restoring freedom and personal power. These energies can be applied violently... or creatively.

But when anger itself is thwarted — when those energies are successfully suppressed via threats of punishment, withdrawal, or exclusion — the child will descend into hopelessness (relative to the original intention, if not generally). The child may then appear "well-adjusted," but those energies persist, like a sleeping volcano, increasing the potential for extreme violence.

So when you empower children rather than thwarting them, you make the world a less violent, more peaceful place. However, it gets tricky when parents think they have to thwart themselves to empower their children, as that can awaken their own raging volcanoes.

Today, look for ways to experience power with your child. Be creative. Think outside the box. Give as much as you can and still feel good. And remember that you are not the ultimate Source of your child's power.

Comments (closed)

"roots of violence"

I really need some practical examples of "ways to experience power with your child". The cycle of anger is very easy to fall into when energy is low or stress is already a factor. Dreaming up new ideas, just like curbing angry impulses, sometimes takes more than is available in a moment's notice.


Power / Anger

Hi Mary... Many of my Daily Groove writings are about experiencing power in partnership with children. A good example is in my Time-In series.

And this search will give you much food for thought about working with anger:

Re: The Roots of Violence

A reader asks...

...would love some more creative examples on this one... e.g. a three year old pushing sister around or grabbing his things from others...

When your 3yo starts behaving aggressively, notice if you're thinking he's behaving badly, and if so, change that thought to "He's trying to feel his power and needs help connecting with his power in a positive way."

The best ways include...

  • Helping him see that he has the power to serve and/or delight others.
  • Giving him an opportunity to discover new/improved capabilities.
  • "Lending" him your power through connecting, such as holding him in your arms while you go about your business in an empowered way.