'I learned that anger is bad. We're not doing that narrative, okay? Anger is not a bad thing.'
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on May 6, 2022
Positive parenting advocate Destini Ann recently went viral on TikTok by revealing the soothing words she uses with her children whenever she notices them struggling with feelings of anger. Destini Ann often shares videos about the importance and power of positive parenting on her platform, which has more than 1.4 million followers. While almost all of her videos resonate deeply with her followers, one particular clip she shared last month hit close to home for many. It had more than 5.3 million views on TikTok alone and many other social media users praised the mom for her parenting techniques.
"I found a phrase that helps my daughter express her anger because she'd be big mad. And I still want to teach her that her anger is not a bad thing," Destini Ann says in the video. "I learned that anger is bad. So, I was the bad kid and the problem teen and then I became an angry Black woman. We're not doing that narrative, okay? Anger is not a bad thing. So look, I've been using this phrase to help her acknowledge her anger in a bit more appropriate way. Of course, I don't use this kind of communication when she's like big, big, big, big, big mad."
Destini Ann went on to explain that she usually tries the phrase when sees the anger escalating. "If she's like slamming doors or rolling her eyes, and I see it escalating, this is what I've been saying. I get down on her level and I say, 'Ken, what is your anger trying to tell you?'" she shared. "And what I'm trying to teach her is that our anger is a signal that something is off, something does not feel right. A boundary is being crossed. A need is not being met. While I can't meet every need, we are a lot more likely to get those needs met if we are articulating it with this (pointing to her lips) and not this (pointing to her eyes)."
Speaking to Bored Panda, Destini Ann shared some other methods she uses when her children are angry. "Offer empathy guesses if they can't articulate why they're mad. ex. 'I wonder if you're feeling angry because we didn't get to go to the store. Does that sound right?' Remind them that their anger is safe with me and I can help them whenever they're ready." However, she emphasizes that there is no "one size fits all" method when it comes to parenting. "I think what works in most situations is what is at the root of this tool and that's compassion and curiosity. Compassion allows me to treat her with respect and kindness and curiosity allows me to approach her anger without judgment," she added.
As for what she does in situations when her daughter is "big mad," Destini Ann said: "I'll wait it out. I remind myself that her anger isn't an emergency. I just sit with her quietly and remind her of my presence. I might say, 'you're safe' or 'I understand' or 'I'm right here.' Then when she calms down and is thinking more clearly, we discuss what's beneath the anger... I'm very big on noticing my feelings in my body. When we are experiencing triggers, sometimes our bodies respond as if there is a greater threat than there really is. So you might feel your heart racing or you may start to feel your chest getting tight. All of these physical cues serve us when there's a real threat. But when it's just an angry child, they can cause a level of reactivity that is disproportionate to the situation. So I often find that if I can calm my body first, then I can respond with compassion and curiosity. I actually do this first before I even address my daughter. That might look like closing my eyes and taking deep breaths, massaging my neck or lightly tapping my temples."