passive aggression by children
Amber had been giving her mother the silent treatment all week. She was angry about not being allowed to sleep over at a friend’s house. Late Thursday night, she left a note on her mother’s pillow, asking her mom to wash her uniform before Friday’s soccer game. When Amber returned home from school on Friday in a rush to pack her gear, she looked all over for her uniform. She finally found it in the washer-perfectly clean, as per her request — but still soaking wet! Amber was late for her game and forced to ride the bench.
When all was un-said and done, Amber’s mother felt defeated. Having one-upped her daughter in the conflict, it was clear to her that she had lost by winning. As parents, most of us have been in situations where traveling the low road is irresistible and we become temporarily reckless in our driving. But anytime we mirror a child’s poor behavior instead of modeling a healthier way to behave, our victories add up to long-term relationship damage and lasting hostilities.
So, what could Amber’s mother have done differently in this hostile un-confrontation? What can any parent do to avoid the agony of victory and the defeat of healthy communication? The following guidelines offer parents strategies for maintaining their calm in a passive-aggressive storm and responding in ways that lay the groundwork for less conflictual relationships with their children and adolescents.
To read more, please click the link below or visit the original post, on the Huffington Post Parents section.
So, my sweet eldest child just muttered something about “I hate you. You’re the meanest Mommy in the whole world” as I was leaving her room. (Apparently she didn’t agree when I told her that homework was her responsibility.) Guess passive aggression and indirect anger are no longer something I need to be concerned about with her… So much for this approach I had just mastered:
How do you approach passive aggressive behavior with your kids?
Do you ever feel like you are riding on an emotional roller coaster with your child? Is your little one friendly and sweet one day, then sulky and withdrawn the next? Does your teenager consistently procrastinate, postpone, stall and shut down any emotionally-charged conversation? Do you, as a parent, ever resemble that same portrait? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are good that passive aggressive behavior has found a way into your home and family.
Check out my article in the Huffington Post Parents section to learn about eight of the most common passive aggressive phrases and to figure out if “sugarcoated hostility” exists in your home and family.
From the time they are toddlers, children are often coaxed by adults to hide their feelings of anger behind a social smile. Worse yet, kids hear the explicit message, “Don’t be angry,” and are actively encouraged to deny this most basic of human emotions. When they act out—either through the tantrums of their earliest years or the rebellion of their teenage ones—they are reprimanded for all of the behaviors that adults do not want them to use.
Rather that hammering away at all of the things kids should not do when it comes to expressing their anger, parents and caregivers can effect lasting change in their kids anger-inspired behaviors by teaching them specific skills for how to be (more…)
This morning, an interviewer asked me how the idea for Friendship & Other Weapons came to be. Thought it was worth sharing with you as well…
My previous book, How to Be Angry, started with the fundamental premise that anger is OK; its 15-session curriculum is all about giving children, tweens and teens specific assertive skills to express their anger in constructive, relationship-building ways. After writing the book, it became obvious to me that there is a large group of young people who are shut out from this basic presupposition that anger is a normal, natural human experience. Millions of young girls in the United States grow up immersed in a social universe in which “being angry” is equated with “being bad” or, at best, not “being nice.” (more…)
Next week, I am doing a training based on The Angry Smile for a group of professionals and parents in Newfoundland, CA. As I am going through my material, I couldn’t help but to dig back in the Modern Family archives and pick out this most classic example of passive aggressive behavior between Claire and her daughter. This is the show that keeps on giving.
Dealing with passive aggressive communication in your household? Check out my post on Psychology Today:
It’s one thing to write about helping kids make smart choices when it comes to expressing anger — it’s another thing to watch an emotional situation play out right before your eyes and hope that your own child will make a good decision! Last weekend, I took my daughter and her friend to a pizza-n-games type of place. For them, making time for the delicious pizza buffet is like “having” to eat their veggies before they can enjoy dessert; wobbly crane machines and spinning prize wheels are the true delight of the restaurant. (more…)
I’ve got a busy Fall planned, with several training workshops featuring The Angry Smile. Although I’ve got a good number of stories about sugarcoated hostility, excessive civility, defiant compliance, and plain old passive aggressive behavior to share, I am always looking for fresh, new examples. If you have a good example of passive aggressive behavior from a friend, family member, co-worker, parent, child, mother-in-law (those are the best!), boss, on Facebook, via e-mail, on a post-it note, or all of the above, I would love to hear it!
Please e-mail me your story to Signe@SigneWhitson.com or better yet, leave it here via the Comments section. Be sure to leave me your e-mail address; I will be sending a free copy of The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces, 2nd ed. to the best example I receive.
Spread the word. It’ll be great for my collection of real-life examples of passive aggressive behavior and probably worth several laughs for you as well, as you hear about the hilarious lengths some people go to avoid expressing their anger directly and assertively.
PLEASE NOTE: By submitting this story to www.signewhitson.com, you grant Signe Whitson a permanent, royalty-free license to use and/or reproduce this story for any purpose.
Please check out my article, featured on Daughters.com. The post offers insight into the intentionally maddening world of passive aggressive behavior and tips for how parents can cope with–and effectively change–this pattern of behavior.