The Roots of Violence

by Scott Noelle

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.

Improve Your Groove

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.

Originally published on 2007-04-17
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