As an early childhood professional and a parent coach, one of the main issues I help parents with is young children being aggressive. Young children have zero impulse control and often express themselves through aggressive acts until they finally have enough practice and skills taught to them by us to use their words and be gentle.
Yes, aggression is a form of communication in young children and if parented gently and respectfully, these children learn that aggression NEVER works. It only HURTS!
But what happens if children are never taught gentleness and kindness? What happens if they are spanked/hit, harshly spoken to/yelled at, and/or otherwise punished and disrespected?
Just turn on the TV, get on Facebook and other social media, or dare to walk outside and you’ll see the effects of harshly treated children crying out for whatever social justice is the current “hot topic.” You’ll see people actually being shot and killed. You’ll see people rioting. You’ll see people verbally assault anyone who dares to offer a different perspective.
Unfortunately, many pro-spankers believe that this is due to not spanking/hitting children enough, but the majority of children are still spanked. The Bible says that we reap what we sow. If violence is “lovingly” sown into children’s hearts to get people to do what they want, then it will be easier for them to use aggression and violence to try to force people to listen to them.
I struggle with this at times too. It’s hard to keep responding respectfully when you’re angry and/or passionate about something. I have made my fair share of mistakes and constantly strive to be a more empathetic, compassionate, gentle person as that was not how I was raised. But the fact that I was raised with harshness and was often disrespected and still get dismissed at times due to my disability is no excuse for my mistakes!
Sadly, some people truly believe that violence and aggression–both physical and verbal– is the only way to be heard and enact change. When people come at me aggressively, I get defensive and shut down. It hurts, so it makes me not want to listen to the person. When I hear about violent actions in the name of some cause, it makes me want to run in the other direction! I feel bad for the victims who are usually innocent bystanders that had the misfortune of being in the crossfire of the angry people.
We claim to want peace but end up trying to get it through violence and aggression. We want equality for all but end up putting certain groups down to get that equality. We believe in love but end up using hate to try to force love. We strive for tolerance but end up being intolerant to groups of people who don’t have our same agenda.
We are all guilty of this! It’s just that certain people fail to recognize this in themselves and think that they are truly making a difference when all they are doing is making everything worse and turning people off. They are even inciting people like them that are on the opposite side to start behaving aggressively. They fail to realize that aggression never works. It only hurts!
I love the Nonviolent Communication approach that Marshall B. Rosenberg writes about, and with which he trains people, because it teaches us that everyone is capable of being compassionate. I’m trying to work on using this approach more with people. Here’s a quote from the website.
“Through the practice of NVC, we can learn to clarify what we are observing, what emotions we are feeling, what values we want to live by, and what we want to ask of ourselves and others. We will no longer need to use the language of blame, judgment or domination. We can experience the deep pleasure of contributing to each others’ well being.
NVC creates a path for healing and reconciliation in its many applications, ranging from intimate relationships, work settings, health care, social services, police, prison staff and inmates, to governments, schools and social change organizations.”
We want our children to be gentle and kind. They are always watching us and imitating us. Therefore, we need to teach them how to be kind and compassionate to others by being kind and compassionate with everyone. Love is the only way to enact change, not violence and aggression. A toddler that throws a cup doesn’t get a drink, but instead, is taught better ways of communicating his/her needs. The same applies to adults. Throwing stuff might feel good but won’t get the change we want to occur. Love always wins in the end!