Children are just as able to get as angry as adults. However, children differ as more often than not, their emotions are raw, untamed and are not subdued by either logical thinking or concerns about the possible costs of their behavior. As the parent, your role in the midst of anger is to understand where your child is having difficulties, which in turn will help you know exactly how to deal with it, both when it’s happening and proactively, so that your child is better equipped to deal with their thoughts and emotions in future.
In the long run, these steps will help your child to redirect their anger into something positive, reducing the likelihood of any sudden rage and helping your child to lead a more peaceful and content childhood.
It’s important to be aware that kids getting angry is them responding to negative stimuli that they deem threatening in some way. Prime examples of this include screaming and attacking their brother or sister (who stole their favorite toy) or their own parents (who they feel has treated them unfairly).
The best way to help kids deal with anger is to approach the issue in a positive way and ensuring your child knows that they are safe can really help them rise above their anger and choose different methods of dealing with issues in a constructive way. With that said, here are some of the most effective ways to help children handle their anger in the short and long term.
Helping a Kid cope with Anger Issues
Start with Yourself
The best place to start is with yourself – how do you behave and how could this affect your children? The main way children learn about the world is by copying their parents. Therefore, if you make the decision to take a patient and empathetic approach to situations, they will see your response to situations and see it as a template for their own behavior. Obviously, this not always easy, but it’s important to keep in mind that if you want your child’s behavior to improve, your own has to as well. Over time, children learn through you and see your discipline and ability to remain cool and collected as a good indication that particular emotions ultimately aren’t so scary.
Quiet the Storm
It’s far simpler to keep calm and carry on when everything is going according to plan. However, when things take a sudden change, it can really try even the most patient of parents out there. At moments like this, it’s important to remember to stay calm and communicate effectively, since raising your voice is only going to aggravate the situation. It’s highly likely that your child already feels in a vulnerable situation, hence the anger. Admittedly, you wouldn’t automatically assume your child is scared when they are flying off the handle, but this is the reality.
Putting more fuel on the fire will only exacerbate the anger and make them feel even less in control of the situation. As their role model and caregiver, your job is to be the calm in the storm and make them feel safe, once calm you can then teach them how to deal with a situation appropriately.
Anger is Acceptable
One of the major setbacks to dealing with anger is scolding your child whenever they fly into a rage. This is the wrong approach as just like every other emotion, anger is acceptable. It is simply a reaction to a situation that your child has perceived as threatening. Therefore, it’s essential you reassure your child and that they know when they feel anger they can approach you with the issue without the threat of feeling you would shame them in some way. Obviously, this doesn’t equate to tolerating his or her reasons, but it certainly means you can empathize with what they are experiencing emotionally. At these difficult moments, the best thing a parent can do is be willing to listen to their child’s worries and fears. Explain to them clearly that when they have found calm you can both talk about their worries together.
Don’t view this as accepting bad behavior. All you are clarifying to your child is that emotions are natural and allowed; only poor actions are to be withheld. If you choose to restrict your child’s emotions, there is a good chance they will keep these feelings concealed. In the long term, this can result in you having a more challenging time getting to the bottom of an issue during times of anger. By allowing them to express themselves you are reassuring them that you are willing to listen to them, however illogical their reaction may seem.
Draw the Limits
Allowing your child to voice their opinions and show their emotions freely does not mean allowing actions motivated by pure anger. It’s essential your child understands that any form of violence is never acceptable. If they do go beyond this very basic rule, then it’s vital you clarify that this is wrong and teach them how to correctly handle angry emotions. For instance, you may state calmly “You might be feeling upset, but touching others is never acceptable, no matter what. Explain why you are feeling like this and we can solve it together.”
Isolation is Not the Answer
When your child’s flying into a rage, the best response may appear to be isolating your child and allowing them to calm down; however this is a bad idea. This is the time your child is most likely to need your guidance to work through their emotions. During a rage, it’s likely your child feels threatened in some way and if they are isolated from others it can leave them all alone having to try and manage some very challenging emotions. As a result, the best step to take is to stay with them and guide them through these difficult feelings by listening and remaining composed. As MomBible states, if you are really struggling to re-connect, you can use a suitable prop, such as their favorite toy as a distraction while you communicate or do something you enjoy doing as a family.
With kids that have anger issues, it’s an indication that they are scared of their negative thoughts and feelings and are ill-equipped to deal with them in a constructive manner. The natural response for many children is to keep those feeling hidden and resort to anger as a way to cope. Many parents assume that this is a ploy to repel them away, but the opposite is true – they need your support.
Jennifer Benson is a parent of two beautiful daughters and when she’s not busy taking care of the house or walking the dog can be found blogging about parenting. Feel free to follow her @themombible