Let me first introduce the emotion called anger. It only knows to do one thing. Wherever a threat (real or imaginary) is detected by a person, there is a physical manifestation of discomforting symptoms. In a world where people disregard personal boundaries, this emotion is a valuable asset. Now let’s put this aside. It’s not something we want to carry around while looking for a good time to release the fury.
Anger will be the red-hot signal which indicates a true violation of personal property and space. But the expression can easily be confused with frustration and maybe even an untreated physical condition like hypertension. What further compounds the mystery of such expression, is when a child currently lacks the verbal skills to tell about the exact source of anger. Or he may know something is wrong, but doesn’t believe in himself enough to sound the alarm. When you think of yourself as a lowly life form, the world does not seem as very supportive. This adds to the fear of what might happen when you break the news of a “violating” type of behavior, especially when it brings on some weird and uncomfortable feelings.
This is why I have to argue against the freedom with which people throw around the term “conceited.” We want children to have confidence, yet shame the act of giving one’s self credit for achievements. There is some sort of fear that one child’s boasting will hurt the feelings of others. I’m still trying to figure out how this would actually happen. I really doubt there will be thousands of children who become damaged for years because of Jimmy’s proud announcement of his new tree-climbing ability. He grew two inches taller and is now able to reach more branches. This is a real achievement! Getting taller and stronger is really cool!
The habit of giving a voice to discoveries in personal strength helps to align a person with their true self-image. The gap between belief and action becomes diminished. The individual’s mind and body start to see this as normal and a protected way of doing things. Any violation of personal well-being is now detected as a clear conflict and something which does not belong. This will give rise to the need for action, which brings along the voice or at least the proper summons of anger.
How would you rather see a child use his alarm system of anger? What we train ego (defense system) to do is what it follows blindly. If personal rules require that a person find out what’s really cool and fantastic about himself, this will be the most natural action. This can happen more often when the adults in a child’s environment are encouraging such a practice. If the normal thing to do is to dig for gold, positive self-esteem will most likely be cultivated. If feeling good about one’s self is the prominent style of living, then anger will be isolated to valid conflicts.