RULE OF PARENTING #2: Flying off the Handle: 6 Techniques for Helping Your Child Deal With Anger

Dealing With Anger

Rules Of Parenting - #2 - Child AngerAnger is an emotion that even the youngest of children experiences. Anger in itself is a very dynamic emotion that can sometimes escalate into behavioural disorders among children. While violent displays of emotions are not necessarily appropriate, loving and caring parents can help their children manage anger in a less dramatic way.

Here are some helpful techniques to help your child deal with anger:

1. Understanding Anger Triggers

Young children do not have the logical capacity to control their anger. However, it is possible to teach your child to notice when he is becoming angry so he will catch his frustration in time.

Start with learning the things that really get your child worked up and try to remove him from these situations. If your two year old throws major tantrums in the grocery store because you usually say ‘No’ to candy, try not to bring her to the grocery store if possible.

Next, realize her body language just before she blows off—these signs will help you know when your child is becoming exasperated. You can then intervene to dissuade her from erupting into a rage. Help your child realize the body signs too so she can get in touch with herself, keeping herself from expressing rage violently.

2. Encourage Him To Talk

Don’t shame your child’s anger or frustration. Instead, allow your child to express what he feels at any given time. When your child talks about his feelings, empathize with him using noncritical statements such as “I see where you are coming from” or “I know you must be feeling so sad or angry”. This does not mean that you allow her to go ahead and throw a tantrum, damage things or haul insults.

For example, if your child starts to whine about doing house chores, you could calmly ask him “James, what is it about loading the dishwasher that is getting you so worked up?” James might explain that he would rather help with vacuuming the house than doing the dishes. If that can be solved, then he will learn that he can express his feelings and things can be solved without getting angry.

3. Wait A Moment

Certainly, it is not easy for a child to step back from a situation and come back to it later. Nevertheless, children as young as two years can be taught how to wait a moment before they can react out of anger. Teach your child how to breathe and pause when she starts to feel anger building up. By now, she should know how to detect bodily cues of rage. Show her how she can take deep breaths that will keep her from breaking into a rage.

It is also essential to teach your child how to talk herself out of a potentially angry situation. For example, she could breathe deeply and say, “I am OK. It’s OK. I will not yell.” Finally, teach your child how to walk away when she starts to feel angry. This will get her away from the anger triggers and give her some time out.

4. Use Different Mediums To Teach Anger Management

Talk about anger management as a family. Use books, videos, and TV programs as mediums for teaching about what anger is, the effects of anger, how to best respond to anger and how to consider other people’s feelings when you are in an angry situation.

Some great books to read together as a family are Angry Octopus: An Anger Management Story, Mad Isn’t Bad: A Child’s Book About Anger, How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group for Kids and Teens, Anger Management Games for Children.

5. Teach Forgiveness

Forgiveness has a psychotherapeutic value in managing anger. It is never easy to teach a child how to forgive, but gradually you can show them how letting go can help in dealing with angry feelings. Help children to see beyond themselves and to understand other people’s perspective. For example, if your child is angry that her friend refused to play with her, you could ask her to think about why her friend did that. Maybe her friend was not in the best mood that day—whatever the reason, help your child to see things from the other’s point of view. Do not pressure her to forgive immediately and do teach her that forgiving does not mean forgetting or enabling the other person to continue making them angry.

6. Manage Your Own Anger Appropriately

Studies by the Oregon Social Learning Center indicate that when parents are too authoritarian or respond angrily to their children’s misbehaviour, their child’s anger only escalates and this can become a vicious cycle for families. Angry as you may be at your child for doing something foolish, resist the temptation to respond from a point of anger. Even when your own child is angry, do not handle his anger with anger. You might want to walk away from the situation and calm down. You are bound to deal with maddening situations rationally when you are levelheaded.

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