Like any other human out there, kids get angry too. When we start feeling threatened, our bodies move into fight, flight or freeze. Anger is the body’s ‘fight’ response. To be honest, anger is a fairly useful and normal emotion. Through it, children learn when things are not right or fair. However, as a parent, it is extremely important for you to keep an eye on your children’s behavior becoming aggressive or out of control due to anger.
If your child is exhibiting signs of aggressiveness and anger, it is extremely important for you to explore the cause of these emotions. Providing your child with the help he needs in order to deal with anger has several benefits to offer. For the moment, it will prevent the aggression from distressing your child and your family. In the long term, it is going to play a significant role in helping you child learn how to cope with emotions and solve problems. The one thing that you need to keep in mind however is that if you leave things as they are, the intensity of the emotion is going to rise from frustration to anger and then rage and bitterness. To help your child deal with his anger, here are a few tips for you to consider:
7 What is triggering your child’s anger?
To be able to help your child cope with his anger, it is necessary for you to find out exactly what is triggering it in the first place. With that, it is also important for you to recognize the early warning signs that your child is starting to get angry. Learning about these triggers will also assist your kid in learning better self-management skills. When your child starts learning his triggers, he will begin recognizing them when they come up too. It will only be possible for him to use a new strategy to manage his triggers once he starts recognizing them. To benefit from this process, you will need to have a lot of problem-solving discussions with your kid overtime, but in the end, it will all be worth it.
Once done, you should also start talking about the strategies that you and your little one can use against his anger. To begin with, you should encourage him to count to 10 or walk away from the situation when he starts getting angry. If you notice him getting angry, give him a gentle reminder that you can sense anger sneaking up on him. This way he will be in a better position to try out his strategies.
How do I identify his triggers?
One of your best tools in this regard is that of your observation. What you need to do is just pay attention and be aware of the warning signs. Listen and watch out for things and ou will definitely start noticing a few patterns leading to his anger. Just keep your eyes and ears open at all times and you will learn about his triggers soon.
6 Look beneath the surface – he’s not a ‘bad’ kid
Children who develop a habit of misbehaving all the time usually turn out to be angry children. Just in case your child behaves that way all the time and you find yourself not knowing what to do, or your kid has started being withdrawn, it is necessary for you to look beneath the surface and find out what is making him feel so upset. In a majority of cases, the reason for those feelings of aggressiveness and anger include a lot of family angry with one or both of the parents being on edge at all times (which makes the child incorporating those feelings in his personality), or the child feeling ‘well-being’ is under a threat. For reasons such as these, helping your child may involve giving your entire family a bit of an overhaul – cut out your anger and focus on things that will help build up his self-esteem. Remember, anger is just the tip of the iceberg – it is a warning that there are things beneath the surface that need to be dealt with.
Anger has the potential to make a child withdraw. Your child may use anger as a ‘protective shell’ in order to ward off attack on a shaky self-image. Although he may appear calm, there is an ocean of emotions underneath that needs to be recognized and channeled. To prevent himself from blowing up, he may withdraw himself so that any interactions that might set him off can be avoided. It is for this reason that you need to refrain from labeling him a bad kid and look beneath the surface to find out what’s wrong.
Stop the bad kid attitude
An angry child feels devastated when he is labeled a bad kid. With time, there is a good chance that such a kid may grow up acting the part. So stop with the labels and work on finding out what’s troubling your kid.
5 Don’t yell at him when he’s angry
The worst thing that a parent can do when dealing with an angry child is by yelling back at him. If you do this, you will only increase your chances of feeling completely out of control. Even during such a crisis, it is necessary for you to remain as calm as possible. Think of things this way, if you get into a car accident and the other driver starts lashing out on you, remaining calm in such a situation may get him to be reasonable and get him to relax too. But if you start being aggressive towards him, the tension is definitely going to heighten. So when your child starts getting angry, it is highly recommended for you to stay calm so that he may do so too.
In a situation like this, it is necessary for you to refrain from getting into a screaming match. Even if you have already started screaming, just stop right away. Irrespective of whether you are deep into a fight or are just starting out, it is best for you to just stop and step away from the screaming match for a while. This way, you will be able to prevent the situation from getting out of control right then and there.
Figure out your response
Stepping away when your child is being extremely aggressive will give you time away from the heat of the situation. The best part is that it will assist you in figuring out your own responses too. This way, you can take a break and then go back to fixing your child’s behavior later with a cool mind.
4 Consider your own physical reactions
When your child is angry, it is extremely important for you to watch your physical reactions too. In a situation like this, your senses are just going to alert you, and your heart will start beating faster due to an adrenaline rush. Although you may find it a bit hard, it is vital for you to prevent these reactions from taking over you and try to stay as calm as possible. What you need to remember here is the fact that you are lending your child the help and strength he needs in moments such as these. By doing this, you are actually setting up a model for your child as to how he should handle those feelings of anger.
As you stay calm, you won’t end up challenging your child or screaming at him to win a power struggle, which will help you decrease the tension. Also, by considering your own reaction, you will let your child focus on himself so he doesn’t have to worry about you or your emotions. In case you don’t respond calmly to your child when he’s angry, he is going to start working even harder at his tantrum to get you to pay attention to his needs and wants. So just be a good parent and use all your parenting skills to handle things as effectively and quickly as possible.
Getting physical with your kid is a no-no
If your child gets angry, you need to stop yourself from getting physical with him. By hitting your child, you will put yourself in your child’s role and that’s honestly going to tarnish the relationship you share with him. You need to teach your child to remain calm at all times and for this, you need to act the part.
3 Identify the early warning signs of his anger
Children don’t often have the ability to recognize anger. In a majority of cases, they act it out before even realizing what they’ve done. To help him cope with his aggression, it is necessary for you to identify its early warning signs. If you help him identify them as well, he will also become aware of his feelings, thereby acquiring the ability to control his responses to them.
There are plenty of common cues that you should look out for when trying to identify your child’s anger. These cues basically indicate that your little one is becoming angry and may lose his control any minute. A few of these cues include:
- Having a tensed body
- Increased intensity of behavior and/or speech
- Clenched teeth
- Noises from the mouth like growls
- Deep breathing
- Unkind words
- Unkind tone of voice
- Whining or yelling
- Withdrawal, restlessness, being easily provoked and even unresponsiveness
- Facial expressions such as rolling the eyes
By learning to recognize these cues, it will be easily possible for you to know when your child is starting to get frustrated with things. Once identified, you will be in the position to take the necessary steps to calm him down before he gets overly aggressive or starts throwing a tantrum.
Help your child
Now that you know of his cues, it is recommended for you to teach your child as well about these cues. Recognizing these signs will help your little one in seeing his own anger and frustration and taking the necessary steps to cool himself off.
2 Don’t send him away to calm himself down
Your kid needs your love most when he deserves it the least – that’s one thing that you seriously need to keep in mind at all times. Yes he may be showing aggression right now, but instead of giving him a time out, give him a ‘time in’. With a time out, children start thinking that they are all alone in terms of dealing with these big, scary feelings. When you give him a time in, you stay with your child and help him clear his mind off those nasty thoughts and do something productive. To be honest, once you do this, you will be amazed at the ways in which your child will start showing more self-control because he does not feel alone or helpless – because you don’t make him feel like a bad kid.
The best thing for you to do in this regard is to adopt a ‘my arms are open’ strategy.This strategy will prevent you from being defensive and you will start focusing more on listening to his problems or needs in such a scenario. What you basically need to do is give him a good tight hug when he is angry and help him calm down. Once he relaxes a bit, you can start talking through the episode, discuss what just happened and see what can be done to resolve the issue. Trust me, this approach will help you hear your child better and offer tools instead of just recrimination.
It may not always be this simple
Yes, this approach may not always work, but it will in most cases. If anything, you should try using this as a default so you can calm your child down and reconnect with him.
1 Start modelling appropriate expressions of anger
Angry parents lead to angry children – that’s a very basic rule that nobody can deny. The thing with anger is that it needs to be expressed appropriately because doing so inappropriately is going to block your ability to discipline wisely. For instance, let’s assume your five year old just covered your cat with spaghetti sauce and it runs off into the living room leaving paw prints everywhere. This really isn’t the time for you to get angry and lose your cool. No matter how aggravating the deed, it is necessary for you to have a clear head to be able to evaluate the ways in which this misbehavior has to be handled. Every single situation that you come across will be different and it is vital for you to have a clear mind to be able to react appropriately to it.
Rage and fury have the ability to cloud your thinking. If you express your anger without thought, there is a good chance that the situation is going to escalate. Spanking the child and sending him to his room will leave you all alone to clear up the mess. By the time that things get sorted out, every single one of you will feel abused, even the dog if you hit it out of anger. For this reason, you need to have an approach that is less draining and this requires you to have a level head and a bit of humor too. If you act wisely by getting your child to help clean up the mess and give the dog a bath, he will learn how a crisis needs to be handled.
If you need to admit that you are angry, go ahead and do it. it is not a weakness because I know how much strength it takes to say things like,, “I can’t talk to you right now; I am very upset so let’s just wait until I am calm enough”.