5 Anger Management Tips for Children
Hitting. Pulling hair. Biting. Yelling. Sound familiar? Parents all over the world have experienced . . . in fact, expected this kind of behavior from their children when something does not go their way. There are times when they don’t even know what caused the tantrum.
After a toddler slowly progresses into the stage of walking and talking, they struggle for independence. Emotions are on a high and they have no way to express them. That is when anger takes over and becomes a form of defiance and self-expression. Anything can trigger their anger, from a demand going unfulfilled or the dinner table not having their favorite food: ice cream. The problem is, as children start going to kindergarten, by now they have gotten a firm control on their aggression. They know yelling and fighting will not get them anywhere. This is where they try different forms of aggression that are subtler such as whining, pouting and sulking.
Control YOUR Emotions: Stop Judging
When you were of your child’s age, you had similar kinds of temper tantrums. So, stop judging your children and comparing them to children who are always polite. The first step to controlling your child’s anger is to tell them that what they did is not the problem but what caused them do it, is.
This will help them realize that how they handled a situation was wrong. Often parents, at this stage try to guilt-trip their children. This is not the way to help your child manage anger. Anger is like a volcano. The difficult feelings lead to frustration, injustice and hurt, which eventually erupt and cement your child’s reaction to every minor annoyance. So, what are you supposed to do? Following are five anger management tips that will help you to manage your child’s behavior before they ‘blow their top’:
Help Them Acknowledge Their Emotions
The first step to managing your child’s anger is to make them aware of their emotions. As mentioned earlier, emotions are what build up over time and explode at the first injustice they feel. Children learn by example and what they pick up here and there. So, first things first: when you are angry maintain a calm expression.
Associate other people’s feelings with your children’s and increase their emotional literacy. Reflect on those feelings and question them:
- Your brother is an idiot? Are you feeling angry because he ate the last ice cream cone?
- What that woman did on TV was wrong. I wonder if she did it because she was feeling cross with her friend.
Explain to them how they should react in these kinds of situations. Instead of taking the matter in their own hands, they should tell you the problem, so that you can give a fair punishment.
Help Them Reach Their Goals
When children fail at a task, the disappointment and frustration gets to them and they take it out on others. If there’s a chore chart attached to your fridge, why not add a reward chart to encourage them to keep the anger away? This is an effective way to help them work harder and with more determination towards their goal. The incentive can be anything from stickers to a new toy at the end of the month or a special dessert of their liking once a month.
Teach Them Anger Coping Skills
Before you say ‘time out’, think twice! Time out is a dangerous way to helping your children manage their anger. Standing facing towards the wall can go either way: they will think about what they did and calm down or they will ‘really’ think about what they did and how unjust your punishment is.
Time out does not just mean standing in a corner; it can be anything that you teach. Some effective coping skills can be occupying their mind by telling them to sing a song they love, divert their attention by telling them to go play with their toys or whispering in their ear to take long breaths.
These tools will help you and them to separate from the situation. It takes only a few minutes to divert a child’s attention. By doing this every time, they will learn to walk away from the situation and the conflict will be resolved peacefully, without your intervention.
“I am angry, that woman pushed me while I was walking but I will walk slowly and get my feelings under control”.
“I am angry that man didn’t stop his car for the dog to cross the street but I will stop so that it can cross safely”.
Self-talk is one of the most effective ways to teach your children how to control their anger. When faced with similar kinds of situations at school, such as a fight with a friend or a punishment, they will think about how calm you were when you were angry. Say, “use your words”, when next time they are angry. Verbalize your feelings and ask them what they would do if they were in their position. Create imaginary anger situations and ask them what they would do. Make sure to always put in your opinions but respect theirs too.
Write It or Draw It
This is a fun way to help your children manage their anger. When they are angry, give them a piece of paper and tell them to write what they are angry about. Then, tell them to slowly tear the paper and imagine the anger going away. Give them a journal and colorful pens to encourage them to write down in it whenever they are angry and then tear the paper.
Another trick is to help them name their anger and then draw it. Not only will this divert their attention, this will help them to realize that what they did was silly and that they should have remained calm.
The trick to managing your child’s anger is teaching at a young age. At a young age, children are more concerned with rewards. However, where you are giving positive praise, negative praise must also be given to make them realize their mistake. They will immediately associate negative praise and disappointment with anger and act more calmly next time.
© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options 2017.
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