Anger Management For Children
“My child gets angry so quickly”. “I don’t know what makes my child so angry all the time”. “When my child gets angry, it scares me”.” Aren’t they too young to experience so much anger?”. Do these sound familiar to you? Are these worrying thoughts on your mind too? Parents today are finding it increasingly difficult to deal with their children’s emotional outbursts. It seems like the present generation of children experiences emotions more intensely. They know what they want and taking a “no” isn’t on their list. Is experiencing anger all bad? Or should we normalise children experiencing anger? Read on to find out.
Is anger normal?
As parents, we aren’t prepared to hear this but anger is as acceptable as any other emotion. It is normal and healthy to experience anger. Where we do need to put in the effort is to differentiate between anger and aggressive behaviour and teach our children how they can express their anger. This is something they are too young to understand and need help with.
Young children are yet to develop the skills they need to appropriately express their emotions and anger can quickly turn to frustration, temper tantrums and aggressive behaviour.
Sometimes, children might experience anger and frustration due to other underlying conditions such as ADHD or anxiety. If at any time, you feel like your child’s anger is interfering with their day to day functioning and your child isn’t responding to your efforts to help them, reach out to a therapist for help.
How to help children deal with anger
Kids experience emotions without knowing what they are. Being unable to express what they are feeling can lead to frustration. Helping children “label” their feelings can help them express them better thereby reducing the frustration they experience. “I can see you are upset that your brother took away your toy” “you feel disappointed that it wasn’t your turn today”. A lot of times, anger stems from being unable to identify the emotion a child is feeling.
Help children express their anger appropriately
Instead of making children feel that anger is inappropriate, help them understand that it’s okay to feel angry and to express it appropriately. “It’s okay to be angry but it’s not okay to hit”. Teach them ways to express and manage their anger in acceptable ways. To use words, communicate their feelings, walk away, take deep breaths or count backwards until they feel calmer. When you stop them from reacting in a certain way, follow up with what would be more appropriate. Brainstorm problem-solving with them after they have calmed down, encouraging them to think of other ways they could’ve handled the situation.
Model better anger management
This is easier than done. It is important to contemplate how we deal with our own anger because children learn from watching those around them. Do we lash out, do we raise our voice, slam doors or do we take some deep breaths, gather ourselves and deal with our anger in gentler ways? Acknowledging your anger and taking responsibility when it gets the better of you will encourage your child to accept their emotions too.
Don’t react with strong emotions of your own
It is a lot to ask; to stay calm and gentle when your child is screaming, being rude or saying mean things. It feels almost instinctive to react with a fitting reply or throw around some authority. Our child’s anger can quickly makes us feel out of control too. But when we react strongly when our kids are not in control of their emotions, we’re only adding to the chaos they are already experiencing. When children are overwhelmed, we can’t get through them with yelling or shouting. It’ll take a bit of practice but it’ll work wonders for you and your child to stay calm and in control of your emotions. Remember, we are the grown-ups and we’re responsible for showing and teaching them the right thing to do.
When children experience anger, they can quickly become aggressive. They might bite, kick or throw objects, in a state of distress. Keep your child safe by removing them from the situation and moving them to a safer space.
It can be scary to see your child in a state of distress when their anger overwhelms them and they lash out. Remind yourself that your child has not developed the skills they need to manage their anger and use these situations as teaching moments for your child. If your child doesn’t respond to your efforts or their aggression worsens and interferes with daily tasks, please seek help from a professional.
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