Friday, August 15, 2008

What We Can Learn From a Toddler

I recently spent a weekend with my daughter and thirteen month old grandson. Typical of a toddler, he is learning how to manage disappointment. His mother was busy and told him that he could not go outside at that moment. This little boy, standing almost 2 feet tall, bent at the waist, put his head to the floor and loudly cried out his anger. Then standing straight again, he was soon involved in happy play. I was reminded that sometimes all we need to do is vent.

Venting is most useful if it is intentional and planned. While venting by yelling and screaming works for a toddler, there are more useful and productive ways to vent. Many people find that physical activity releases the emotional energy that is built up from stress and/or anger. I am told that running or working out at the gym is a good way to release that energy. I like to work in my flower garden.

But there are less physical ways to vent, too. Reading, meditation or praying are useful methods for releasing pressure. Sometimes, I like to talk to someone about a stressful situation. It helps me see the situation differently. I guess that is similar to my grandson who that same weekend was in a nonverbal discussion with his cousin. It seems they both wanted the same swing and chose to resolve it by pushing (physical venting) His mother was able to discuss it with him and redirect him to solve his problem in a more helpful way. Venting or discussing it with others is most helpful if talking about it doesn’t stir up the initial emotions and pressure but helps us move through the situation.

There are many ways to vent after a tough day at work or home. Remember that in order for venting to be useful, it needs to be controlled. Regular planned activities help to prevent negativity from reaching a point where it spills over to other relationships. Venting is of no use if it keeps us in a state of anger.

Learn a lesson from a toddler: Vent and move on.

For further information on anger management check out the following Extension websites:

This blog entry is submitted by guest blogger, Rachel Schwarzendruber.

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