A healthy kind of anger

Is there such a thing as a healthy kind of anger? Is it OK to feel angry, frustrated, upset, sad and to show that emotion to the people around you? Also, how should you show that emotion? Is there a right way and a wrong way?

When I was a child, I always felt like there was a very fine line between showing a lot of emotion and not showing enough emotion, and this was particularly apparent when I was being disciplined. The comedian Trevor Noah in one of his many stand up shows, said the very same thing. The reason it was so very hilarious was because it was so very true.

In a Kenyan household, discipline is usually spanking. This can come in as many forms as your parent is creative- and creative, Kenyan parents really are. So you need to decide how much to cry, when to cry, when to stop- don’t cry too much and don’t cry too little. Either will not end well for you- the former will prove you out to be the little manipulating ragrat that you are, and the latter will show you out to be too tough- thus more spanking. We all sort out the perfect balance- nobody ever wanted to hear the inevitable, ‘oh wewe ni mgumu?‘ or ‘unalia na sijaanza kukupiga hata?!’ (‘Oh, so you’re tough eh?’ or ‘You’re crying and I haven’t even started spanking you yet?’)

So, when I look at Kendi and how she expresses her anger and frustration enthusiastically and often, I have to wonder- Is this a temperament we are born with and can one be taught to be a different kind of way.

I mean its basically a civil war in my house when Kendi sits down too suddenly, has a sharp object taken away from her, doesn’t want to eat the banana offered, can’t figure out the Lego block, wants the phone, wants to help hang up the clothes to dry, now wants the banana, and all the millions of things that affect her daily life. I want to teach my child that disappointment, anger and frustration are normal parts of life. So is falling down, not agreeing with something or someone, etc, its how we express that emotion that sets us apart from wild animals.

And we, my dearest Kendi can’t behave like wild animals.

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