A few years ago, I kicked a huge dent in my washing machine.
I’ve also destroyed a pedestal fan.
I’ve thrown coffee cups, thrown chairs, punched walls, and screamed obscenities until my throat hurt.
I’ve punched myself in the back of the head and even bitten myself on occasion.
Thankfully, I only ever did it when I was by myself, not wanting to involve anyone else in my rage.
However, I’ve regretted and felt ashamed of my anger for years.
That’s not the happy go lucky Josh Langley most people know, but it was.
Thankfully not anymore. I’ve had therapy and I now understand myself and where that anger comes from. I understand what’s going on inside me.
The ‘happy’ child
I was never encouraged to talk about my feelings or taught how to express them safely when I was young. I wasn’t allowed to show anger or frustration because it only fueled my parents’ anger, so I pushed it all down. Smiled and carry on.
I couldn’t openly talk about feeling sad or disappointed. I couldn’t whinge or complain. I soon learned not to cry. I could only smile and carry on.
And that is the case for a lot of adults today, especially men – they’ve become emotionally munted.
And we know what that looks like in 2021.
It’s it in the headlines of newspapers, it’s played out in family courts and criminal courts, and even worse, women’s refuge shelters, prisons and graveyards are filled with the tragic results.
I won’t let today’s kids grow up like that. Not on my watch.
It’s a priority that kids are encouraged to talk about their feelings and given simple strategies on how to work with big and difficult emotions.
If we normalise talking about feelings and what’s going in our heads and hearts, especially for boys, then you don’t need to be a psychologist to work out how positive the results would be.
Conversations that change lives
I had a mum contact me after reading my book about feelings to her 5 year old son and she said she discovered things he was thinking and feeling she wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. The book created a safe space for her son to open up and talk about what was making him angry. They could then put simple, yet safe strategies in place so he could feel some semblance of control and understanding of what was going on.
When I tour primary schools with my Being You is Enough school presentation, I implicitly say to the kids, especially to the boys, that as human beings we’re not meant to keep our thoughts and feelings inside us. We need to find someone we trust to talk them out with, that way we feel lighter and better.
“Don’t keep pushing your feelings down and down, as one day they’ll build up and you’ll eventually explode and it won’t be pretty”.
I then look around the room at the boys and I can feel they instinctually understand what I’m saying.
I know boys and girls express themselves differently, with girls being more able to talk about their feelings, but who’s to say that boys can’t do the same? If we encourage them from an early age to feel safe talking about what’s troubling them, then it’ll be more normal for them to keep doing it as they get older. It makes sense.
Maybe I’m being simplistic, but I don’t care.
It doesn’t have to be complicated
I always bring it back to me. If someone had said to me when I was 9, that it was ok to be angry and then helped me recognise what it felt like and showed me how I could express the energy safely, I would be a different person now.
That’s why I included a video about anger as part of my short video course, Growing Emotionally Resilient Kids and Here I am! Masterclass course for kids. I walk kids through how they can notice when they feel angry, how they can safely release the energy and then find someone to talk to about what’s made them angry.
It’s simple, it’s direct and it’s essential for every child’s emotional wellbeing.
Free to watch
We need a seismic cultural and societal shift in attitudes to how boys express their feelings and emotions. Thankfully there are some amazing people already leading the change and I want to play my part too, no matter how small.
That’s why I’ve included the video on anger below, so you can watch with your child together. It’s only 6 minutes and could be a life changer. Feel free to share it with other families too.
And as adults we could learn a thing or two as well. It’s not too late.
More resources to help build emotional and mental resilience in kids. https://joshlangley.thinkific.com/collections