Does your child have trouble managing their anger? Help your child find healthier ways to control intense feelings and manage their frustration before it becomes unmanageable.
While anger is often expressed through shouting, screaming and other physical behavior, upset feelings can also be stuffed down inside. Both ways of dealing with angry feelings are damaging.
Anger is normal.
Communicating to your child that it is okay to get angry is important. They are not bad for getting angry, but how they express their emotions can be inappropriate, and unacceptable. Before anger becomes a habit, take the time to help your child deal with their intense feelings. Different techniques are good for different children. If one of the methods is causing more frustration than switch to something else.
Identify and redirect
When you start to see your child displaying signs of anger, whether they are clenching their fists, or yelling, jump in with a physical suggestion such as the following;
- Stomp your feet
- Run around the house
- Walk to the park
- Kick a soccer ball, or play catch
Encouraging physical activity can help get the frustration out. Sometimes anger is just masking exhaustion. After running around, they may be ready to take a nap!
Talk it out
Help your child describe their feelings. Introduce them to new words so they can classify their anger. Open a thesaurus, or start trying to pinpoint the right emotion. This may sound odd, but maybe they will determine on their own that they are not “angry” or “furious.” Instead, they may be just “irritated” “upset” or even “scared.” My son enjoyed this little exercise so much he often forget what he was upset about in the first place.
Encourage them to take deep breaths and employ simple self-talk methods. Saying to themselves, “I can handle this,” or “Calm down” can help. Blowing bubbles on the front steps was the perfect anger management tool for my oldest daughter. It got to the point she would grab the bubbles herself and go outside when her brother did something that made her mad. Even today, as a high school senior, quietly blowing bubbles is one of the ways she copes with stress.
Draw the anger, or have them draw a picture of what they wish they could do, then tear the picture up into hundreds of pieces and throw away. Older kids can write out their feelings, while younger ones can tell their side of the story into a tape recorder. Listening to it after they are done, and then erasing the anger. Play dough or other craft project may be a good distraction for kids who do not know what to do with themselves.
Scrub angry feelings away
Either pop them in the bathtub to “wash away all the madness,” or have them wash something. In the summer, washing the bikes was one way to calm my son down. Also, if the anger was inappropriately handled, example your child hit you or another child, have them use their strong muscles and energy to clean something that needs it! Sure it is part punishment, but when time out involves constructive and repetitive motions it is more effective in dealing with the anger than having the child just sit in a corner.
All these techniques can also be modeled. Keeping your anger in check and managed is really the best way to avoid an “anger problem” from escalating out of control.
More by Sylvie Branch:
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Messy Room? What You Can Do as a Parent
9 Ways to Encourage Creativity