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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Is your child dealing with rage, anger or plain irritation?

Ignore rage and you just might find yourself summoned to the police station in the middle of the night. Like Safeena's parents in Gully Boy.


Updated: April 1, 2019 12:40:11 pm
anger rage in child Alia Bhatt as Safeena in Gully Boy (Source: YouTube)

By Preeti Arora

Barely two months into 2019, a mainstream Bollywood film emerged as one of the blockbusters of the year. Gully Boy has been loved, acclaimed and appreciated by a vast audience ranging from pre-teens to senior citizens. The star of the film undoubtedly is Murad Ahmed (Ranveer Singh), the aspiring rapper who turns his life around. Simultaneously, we find ourselves rooting for Safeena Firdausi (Alia Bhatt), his girlfriend of a decade. Safeena’s is a layered personality where she dons a mask of naivete and innocence to conceal the fury and the ‘rage’ hidden within. She lies with a straight face and her disarming smile can melt the hardest of hearts. Whenever she goes on a rampage we find ourselves sympathising with the inherent contradictions in the life Safeena desires and the façade she must adopt to keep her mother happy, continue her studies and remain unmarried till she can at least complete her basic education.

Cut to reality. The Safeenas of the celluloid world can’t survive in the real world. Assaulting a friend or an acquaintance with a glass bottle is not an act that will ever go unpunished. The consequences will always remain deadly and serious. Expulsion from college, social ostracism or even worse, a couple of years of jail time! Most parents, however, fail to differentiate between rage and anger. The source of rage is invariably unfocused, non-channelised anger. When one car scrapes another in bumper-to-bumper traffic and the drivers start beating each other up we call it Road Rage not Road Anger.

A child or teenager experiences anger for many reasons. Children fail to see the positives in their life because another child seems to have so much ‘more’. Aarush wishes his mother hadn’t given up her job to take care of him. His best friend’s mother is a pilot and he feels his own domestic life is mundane in comparison. Or Sukriti’s case. Sukriti wants to become a professional athlete but her parents would rather she opt for a more stable career. These are natural hitches faced by any family in the process of child-rearing and get sorted out with a little bit of give and take from both sides.

And then there is ‘irritation’. Another emotion which seems to be floating around in abundance these days! Initially, the parents encourage it. If the child has to wake up 30 minutes earlier for the school bus, a chauffeur is engaged. If the tennis coach doesn’t give special treatment to your brat you go out and look for a new sports complex. The ultimate irony being, a decade from now these same parents will be whinging about the younger generation and their levels of intolerance.

Also Read: Parenthesis: How to deal with your child’s mood swings

Children from middle-class backgrounds are luckier. They don’t scribble on their textbooks because they know the same book will be used by two more children either in the family or the neighbourhood. They are used to hand-me-downs in terms of clothes, bags and shoes and they grow up with a healthy respect for money.

Solution for irritation

Kids must learn to adjust; they need to understand the universe doesn’t revolve around them. Or they become social misfits when they exit their teens and try to find their place in the ‘real world’. The most common refrain one hears is “I don’t understand why he is behaving so badly”. Look at all what we are doing for him; we spent our entire Diwali budget on his iPad. And he doesn’t even appreciate it. And then the next question is “How can we fix it?”

Bad news

You can’t fix it. All explanations will be ignored because your child is hoping to guilt-trip you. Give in once and you will find yourself in the same maze repeatedly. It could be a foreign trip, branded clothes, a new guitar or permission for an overnight stay-over. If you are not comfortable say ‘NO’. And too bad if he sulks when the relatives visit! His behaviour simply signifies he’s going through a rough adolescence. It in no way implies you are a lousy parent.

Returning to the various kinds of anger issues…

Positive outcome of anger

Mannan was furious with his father. His father had promised him he could become a pilot after 12th grade. Mannan had slogged the whole year without even enrolling in a coaching class. And now at the very last minute his father was backing out. The father didn’t want to spend such a humungous sum of money. Mannan opted to become a chef. That was affordable thanks to some wise investments made by his mother. Seven years later at 25, Mannan is considered a brilliant chef. He works hard and parties harder. He is careful with his money, saves well and keeps buying stuff for his mother. He is polite to his father but keeps a distance. The father keeps trying to rebuild bridges. So far it’s not happening. Will it ever happen? We don’t know. But Mannan’s life is on track thanks to the anger he successfully overcame when his father let him down.

Negative outcome of anger

Puneet’s parents were divorced and his father remarried. The father lived a luxurious life. Puneet was a good student and enjoyed a cordial relationship with his father. Puneet wanted to study in the US and was fairly confident his father would pay his fees. The second wife protested and Puneet had to drop the idea. He went on to study at one of the best colleges in India for which his father willingly paid all expenses. Puneet didn’t appreciate it and turned sulky and resentful. His grades stayed average. He didn’t push the bar when campus placements were happening. Often he doesn’t take the initiative and blames others when work doesn’t proceed in a harmonious fashion. His mother who has her own share of resentment towards the second wife eggs Puneet. He is drifting through life and the predominant feature in the lives of both mother and son is to blame the father. Puneet needs to understand that his anger is destroying his own life and move on.

Do’s and don’t for parents

· Don’t take every tantrum seriously. A lot of temper issues are age-related and a majority of children outgrow them.

· Anger is natural and every child has a right to be angry. As long as they find safe and non-violent ways to express their anger, don’t control their emotions.

· Listen with an open mind. If the child is being badly treated by a neighbour, an older sibling or the school bully you need to intervene.

· Getting angry yourself, shouting or screaming can only make matters worse. Take your time but enter into a discussion when you are in a calm and peaceful state of mind. It’s easier said than done but it is the only way out.

· Recognise the symptoms of rage and confide in a friend or trusted family member. Seek professional help.

Ignore rage and you just might find yourself summoned to the police station in the middle of the night. Like Safeena’s parents in Gully Boy.

(Certain names have been changed to protect identities.)

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