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As a society, we know that yelling and getting angry is unhealthy. Being a “rage-a-holic” benefits no one. There are countless studies, support groups and mantras for managing anger or telling them to channeling it elsewhere. When it comes to parenting, some people teach positive parenting or never spank your kids and others disagree with these styles completely. But what if there was a way to raise cool headed children from the start without ever needing to seek punishment?
I know what you’re thinking and it’s probably the same reaction I had upon learning about this particular parenting style. Raising your kids without ever raising your voice or entertaining a toddler’s temper tantrum seems like an impossible task and paving the pathway to rebellious teenagers and immature adults. But for one group of people, it’s been a way of life for hundreds of years with an active fight to keep the tradition alive.
For the Inuit Tribe in Northern Canada, they raise their children by the golden rule: Don’t shout or yell at small children.
NPR recently published an article telling the story of Harvard Graduate, Jean Briggs, and how she was “adopted” by an Inuit family for 17 months. They lived similar to the way of their ancestors, building igloos in the winter and tents in the summer. Though, the most remarkable thing she noticed was that “they never acted in anger toward me, although they were angry with me an awful lot.”
The Inuit look at yelling as demeaning or stooping to a child’s level. This parenting style is unlike most and would be described as incredibly nurturing and gentle. One woman’s parenting style is so gentle, she doesn’t believe in timeout.
I know. It sounds insane. But just hear me out.
Briggs describes how calm and cool headed everyone remained in her 1971 book, “Never in Anger.” She says in an interview for CBS, “My ways we’re so much cruder, less considerate and more impulsive.” Even when the most inconvenient and terrible things happened, the Inuit would never release the slightest bit of anger.
So instead of yelling at their children and getting angry, anger is never a learned concept. But, “How?” you might ask. The Inuit use storytelling as a way to deter the children from acting out.
When a child throws a temper tantrum, the Inuit parents don’t act in anger. They wait for the child to completely calm down and then they put on a sort of play, always in a fun and playful tone. They act out the situation with real life responses. “The idea is to give the child experiences that will lead the child to develop rational thinking,” Briggs told the CBS.
For example, if a child is hitting others, a mom will start the play by asking, “why don’t you hit me?” Instead of reacting in anger, she will say something like, “ow, that hurts!” And then she will ask, “Don’t you like me?” or “are you a baby?” She is getting the idea accross that hitting hurts people’s feelings.
Psychologist Peggy Miller says, “When you’re little, you learn that people provoke you and these dramas teach you to think and maintain some equilibrium.” The dramas offer children a chance to practice controlling anger before they get angry. As we all know, it’s hard to control your anger once you are angry.
This Inuit style of parenting is completely different from that of much of modern culture as we know it. Could remaining calm and showing a child what anger does really be the secret to raising cool headed children?
As a first time mother, I am always looking for advice and trying to figure out the best way to raise my daughter. I’m sure that every mother can relate.
Maybe the Inuit are on to something. Could this be the best way to teach children self-control and to not get angry? Keep in mind, they are not teaching kids to not express emotion, but rather to know the consequences of their emotions and behavior.
Maybe we should give it a shot. It couldn’t hurt right? Because almost anything sounds better than screaming your lungs out and sending a child away to their room.
What are some of the concepts that you use to teach your child not to lash out in anger? Or how did your parents teach you? Do you agree with the Inuit Parenting Style? Let me know in the comments below!