Could My Child Become a Violent Shooter?

Hulk (comics)

Hulk (comics) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, no and maybe.  Remember the Hulk?  A normal looking man who turn into a green monster in a matter of seconds.  As a man he seems kind, understanding, logical, sympathetic, and systematic but given the right opportunity, he becomes unreasonable, angry, aggressive, spontaneous, and violent.  In a very simplistic way, this illustration clearly describes what happens to a violent shooter.  Yes, there are personality profiles, addictions, disorders, environments, and relationships that all contribute to the likelihood that a person will become a shooter but the bottom line is there is still a willingness to become the monster that lurks deep inside.

Who does this happen to?  Be honest for a second and recall your last monster like appearance.  Were you ranting and raving about something meaningless, were you throwing something across the room, were you crying uncontrollably, or were you wishing harm on someone?  If you can honestly assess your own monster like tendencies than you have the ability to discern your child’s monster like tendencies.  Everyone has this, it is just a matter of degree and triggers.

How does this happen?  It is like the flick of a switch.  One moment everything seems fine and then the switch is flicked and things are out of control.  Behind the switch however is a trigger that provoked you or your child into becoming the monster.  So the key is to know your own switches first and then you can more clearly see your child’s.  After all, some of your switches are likely to be the same or at least similar areas of frustration.

Why does this happen?  Well, within all of us lies an evil nature that if properly provoked could result in behavior uncharacteristic of you or your child.  Yes, it is hard to believe that your sweet innocent child might have some evil lurking inside but there is only person to be born without an evil nature and subsequently die without committing a sin and it is not your child.  Accepting the reality is far better than living in a fairytale land and pretending that your child is incapable of any harm.

What can I do to stop it?  Once you have accepted the possibility that your child could cause harm to others and learned their triggers, then you are in an excellent place to discern what type of care or treatment is needed.  If your child has numerous violent video games, talks about killing people, is easily angered into rage, has a history of causing harm to animals, or shows great disregard for authority, then your child needs immediate help from a trained professional.  If the reaction is less severe, then modeling proper behavior is the best place to start.  Your child will learn far more from how you act rather than what you say.

So yes, everyone is capable of evil.  No, this does not mean that your child will become a shooter.  But maybe, through good modeling in keeping your parent monster in check, you can teach your child to keep their monster from coming out and harming others.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Are You Making Your Kid Angry?

Technically, no one can “make” you angry unless you give them that right.  While it may seem as though the actions of another person are “making you angry”, in actuality it is your set of experiences, emotions, beliefs, and ideals that cause you to get angry.  For instance, one person may become angry at being cut off while driving while another person may not even notice the action.  The difference between the two people is one person took the action as a personal offense while the other person did not.  The person cutting you off did not “make” you angry; rather you became angry because of how you perceived their action.

So while another person can’t “make” you angry, you can “make” your kid angry.  Why the double standard?  Because your kid is a child and you are an adult.  With maturity comes the ability to temper or control your responses which is the idea of having “self-control”.  But for a child, they have not reached this level of maturity and are unable to demonstrate self-control so they display immature behavior which is characterized by a lack of control over their responses.  Literally, you can “make” a kid feel a certain way because they are not fully in control of their responses.  Therefore, as the adult, you are responsible for “making” your kid angry.  Ephesians 6:4a warns, “Fathers (and mothers), do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.”  But just how are you “making” them angry?

Not listening.  Easily hands down the number one complaint kids have about their parents is that they don’t listen to what they are saying.  Too often as a parent, you are trying to get your point across and don’t stop long enough to make sure you understand your child’s point of view.  Then, because they are a child, often they really don’t know what they are really thinking or how they are feeling, so they default to anger.  No, they are not able to speak clearly, they are a child.  No, they are not able to counteract you point by point, they are a child.  But give them some time and soon as teenagers they will become more and more like you, not listening and counteracting you point by point.

Assuming the worst.  Just to make things more complicated, kids don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say.  While this is a nice lesson to teach them, assuming the worst motive or attitude about your child sends a subtle message that they are not valued or their opinion is not valued.  This brings on anger in your child just as you get angry when someone assumes the worst about you.  When you assume the worst about your child, they interprets this as “I am no good”, “I can never do anything right”, or “I am to blame for everything”.  The negative consequences of a child learning this at a young age is that it will not leave them as an adult.  For the rest of their lives, they will struggle with a positive self-image which you helped to foster.

Seeing yourself in them.  When you see your child behaving and speaking just like you while making all the same mistakes you made, there is almost an immediate angry response on your part.  It seems to come out of nowhere, one moment you are able to speak calmly and the next you are flying off the handle.  There is no rhyme or reason except that you were triggered by a past event or mistake and watching your child suffer through the same mistakes you made is more than you can handle.  The problem is that your child doesn’t understand your anger and they instead internalize it.  They become angry with themselves for “making” you angry.  In the moment, you child is not likely to respond badly but give them a couple of years and the resentment will build and turn to intense anger.

Ok, so you have made a few mistakes or more likely, made more than a few mistakes in “making” your child angry but it is not too late.  You can stop “making” them angry by simply doing the opposite of what “made” them angry.  You could listen to what they are really saying, you could assume the best about your child, and you could divorce your behavior from your child’s behavior.  After all, they have their own journey to make based on their own decisions and it is not necessarily the same journey you have made in life.  The decisions they will need to make in the future are made best when not heavily influenced by anger from their parents.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

What! School Starts Next Week!

If you are like me, then the start of school always seems to come sooner than expected.  Projects that need to be finished are half way done, trips to the beach were less than planned, vacation time flew by, and friends coming over happened too infrequently.  But here we are again with school starting regardless of how little was accomplished.

Getting you ready for the new school year is one thing, but getting your child ready is a whole different task that is often met with resistance.  So here is a list of several things both of you can do this week to get ready for the start of the new school year.

  1. Make the morning drive or walk to the bus stop now to know how long it takes to get there.
  2. Repeat the same drive at the return time following the pick-up lines.
  3. Begin this week by getting up at the time you will need to wake up for school.
  4. Do your entire morning routine including making breakfast and lunch as practice.
  5. Clean out the old backpack or lunch boxes.
  6. Sort through old school supplies and make a list of new purchases.
  7. Check your school’s website for school supply lists.
  8. Go through clothes getting rid of clothes too small and making another list of needed clothing.
  9. Organize your closet space so shoes and socks are easy to find.
  10. Check clothing for any missing buttons or hems that need to be taken down.
  11. Go to the store and purchase needed items now before school begins for the best discounts.
  12. Organize your desk or homework space to prepare for upcoming homework.
  13. Run a virus scan on your computer and clean it up in preparation for new assignments.
  14. Make sure your printer has an extra print cartridge.
  15. Review summer reading lists and assignments making sure all papers are completed.
  16. Go on your school’s website and look at after school practice schedules to update your calendar.
  17. Arrange for car pools before school begins.
  18. Print off the master school calendar for the year noting all holidays and half days in advance.
  19. Spend an hour a day on the computer brushing up on a skill such as typing or math.
  20. Do one special thing like seeing a movie, going to the beach or hanging with friends.

If the summer slipped by too fast, there really is no point in dragging out the beginning of the school year in hopes of postponing the inevitable.  Rather now is the time to be thankful for what you did, be thankful for who you did it with and be thankful for another year.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.