Anger Management for a 6 year old – Part 1

Checking out nature at MacRitchie Treetop Walk

Checking out nature at MacRitchie Treetop Walk

It’s still the school holidays in Singapore and today I had arranged a short walk with my good friend, R and her kids to have a morning walk  to the Treetop Walk at MacRitchie Nature Reserve.

I woke up at 6am to the ominous sound of thunder and 15 minutes later, a steady drizzle. It had been scorchingly hot for the past week, so I was not too pleased that of all days to have thundery showers, it had to be today. A check with the weather forecast was not too good either, thundery showers were expected in most parts of Singapore.

By 7.30am, the weather had not changed but R and I decided to take a chance and hope that either the weather cleared or it was not raining in MacRitchie (R and I go a long way back, right from the midnight suppers during our Raffles Hall hostel days to our epic 35 day shoestring backpacking trip around  Java on less than $950, including airfare mind you!).

We left at 8am, driving in what was now pouring rain but sometimes good things come to those who take a chance – the skies were clear once we entered Upper Thomson Road. We hopped into R’s car Venus Drive carpark and drove further in, eventually parking at Singapore Island Country Club, cutting the walk by about 1 km, since we had young children with us.


A shady walk all the way

A shady walk all the way

The walk was really nice and shady. The weather turned out to be perfect, the early morning showers had cooled down temperatures and the forest provided a lovely canopy that lowered the heat a few more notches.

We had a great time, just ambling, pointing out various seeds and even found 2 skinks basking in the sun at the ranger’s station.


Sun bathing skinks

Sun bathing skinks

The kids loved the Shorea seed pods, picking them up and throwing them in the air to see them swirling down like helicopters.

Toy helicopters from the forest

Toy helicopters from the forest

When we reached the Treetop Walk, Bea was amazed at the height and sight of it all.  There were also 3 cute baby monkeys hanging around (well, one had a bit of a problem with sharing the walkway and his eyes were just shooting out death rays to anyone passing by). She was so thrilled that she wanted to do it again!


Hello!? This walkway belongs to us!

Hello!? This walkway belongs to us!

Top of  MacRitchie TreeTop Walk

Top of MacRitchie TreeTop Walk

Trouble started brewing when we had to climb this inordinately long flight of steps upon leaving the walkway. That was the first stumble she had, and I was surprised to see her kicking the wooden step in response.  I left it as that as it was just a fleeting action.

R had cleverly planned snack stops at the one third mark, 2/3 mark and last quarter of the walk. So the kids were walking in anticipation of strawberry sticks (1st stop), chocolate sticks (2nd stop) and Milo (3rd stop).

Here they are at the 2nd stop, fascinated by a trail of  ants marching across the rest hut before proceeding to play jump over the ants.

The ants go marching on!

The ants go marching on!

After the 2nd stop, we arrived back the the ranger station and again, she stumbled over a rock and I caught her kicking it in response.

At the last quarter of the walk, it happened again. This time, I gave her a disapproving look (at look that I hope said “just wait till we are in our own car, young lady”). She stopped walking while I pretended to continue walking – it was a test of who would call each others’ bluff – she caved in (I am not too sure how much longer I can pull this off though). I could see her sulking from the corner of my eye but I couldn’t even understand what was there to be angry about, stumbling on a rock.

A few minutes later, I sort of understood where the frustration was coming from. There was only 1 Shorea seed shared between the 2 younger children. L, the youngest boy was holding on to it but Bea wanted to play with it too. So after a few more minutes, she asked L “Can you please share the seed? Can I hold it for a while?” So L very obligingly, shared the seed pod and Bea was happy that she had the chance to hold it and gave it back to him after awhile. She found a fat twig on the ground, broke it into half and played imaginary drums for the rest of the walk.

Later, when we were back in our own car, I felt that I couldn’t just let it slide.

M: ” Why do you  kick a step or a stone just because you stumble on it?”

B: silence

M: “If there is something else making you unhappy, you shouldn’t take it out on something that has not done anything to you. You know all things start from small things, like a seed. Good and bad things. Imagine, you kicked a rock just because you trip on it. The next time, if you trip on Blackie (my sister’s dog whom Bea consider’s herself Blackie’s favourite person in the whole world), will you kick her too?”

"I'm her favourite person."

“I’m her favourite person.”

M: ” You know, there was a man who poured hot water on a stray dog that wandered near his noodle shop. I bet, when he was young, he probably kicked stones when he tripped on them. Now that he is older, all he knows what to do is to kick back or hurt things when things don’t go his way.”

B started to cry at this point.

B: “Stop, stop! It’s too sad…”

M: “Well, I just telling you so that you won’t be like that noodle man in future because he’s so nasty that he has no friends and now nobody wants to buy his noodles too.”

I hope the message sunk in.




5 Responses to “Anger Management for a 6 year old – Part 1”

  1. This post hits it really close to home. When the boys were little, my parents used to stay with us for months at a time. Whenever the boys got hurt, for example, they bumped into a table, or fell on the ground by accident, my parents would hit (or make the boys hit) the table or ground to make the boys feel better. They would say, “It’s all your (table or ground) fault!” I thought it so strange at the time. The more I thought about it, I realized that this attitude actually reflected their larger outlook of life. The victim syndrome–blaming everyone or everything around them for their suffering, rather than taking personal responsibility for their actions and the consequences.

    With regard to anger — It’s well known that people redirect their anger, because often they cannot release their anger back to the offending party (e.g. your boss, or your elders) for whatever reason. So they release it to different channels (by slamming a door, or breaking a dish, or yelling at spouses or children), something they could get away more easily. Most often, people (let alone children) couldn’t articulate where their anger came from. So they then blindly take the negative feelings out elsewhere.

    I really appreciate your message that all things comes from small things, and that you took this little things Bea did–so little that many people wouldn’t even notice– as a great teaching opportunity and taught her good from bad. I have no doubt in my mind that she will turn out to be a wonderful person like you and Albert.

    • Yan, you know at the very moment it happened, I thought of you and what you had told me before but never fully understood it. But this time, it really hit home, watching her kick the rock in anger and suddenly there was this “ping” in my head that went on – how different is this from hitting the table corner that knocked them? The child simply applied what was taught to another situation.

  2. I thought your article was very nicely written and thought-provoking. We live in Europe and have some mediterranean and some slavic blood – both regions known to be quite volatile and explosive in their reactions. I have a bad temper and see how with my bad modelling behaviour my kids lash out when frustrated sometimes. In our cultures however it is seen as healthy to “let go” of anger and frustration rather than to bottle it up, as it is almost perceived to cause more sinister illness. My question is, how did your daughter actually move on from the discussion? ANd if she has no rock to kick, then how is she supposed to learn to let go. Do you have any tips please?


  1. What to tell a child when a friend hurts their feelings? Part 1 | Royal Rae - July 21, 2014

    […] Ah Yee (my sister, Ah Yee is the Cantonese word for Aunt), that she would not loose her temper. (remember the earlier incident, where she kicked the rock? So Ah Yee told her not to get angry at little things. I am not sure if there was a pinky promise […]

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