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We often talk about how resilient children are, but it makes it all the tougher to help an angry child if we believe that they are simply resilient. Children can take a lot of change, and they adapt quickly, but the more you think that your child can handle a change, the more shocked you will be if they become suddenly angry. With everyone’s schedules being scattered in the wind with the pandemic scare, school closings, grocery store shelves being depleted, it’s a miracle that my kids haven’t had more complete meltdowns lately.
Children voice their frustrations with tantrums and yelling and if they are older sulking and eye rolling. But if you are dealing with a child who has a constant sadness or anger about them, alarm bells should be ringing for you. Children are not born with a deep anger inside them, and if your child has outbursts that are becoming an issue, then it makes sense that you would want to help them. Let’s take a look at how you can do that.
Teach Your Child About Their Feelings
Emotions are big in small children. The waves of feelings that they deal with make them far more likely to lash out at you – even when you cannot understand why. Children can’t articulate the big feelings swirling around inside them, so they often act out to get the attention of the grown-ups around them. Teach your children what their different feelings are called, and they can learn to talk about them. You can use the help of places like the Family Time Center to help your children to feel safe. As they develop an understanding of what their feelings are and what they mean, you can start talking about it a more and help them better through stressful or tough times.
Create A Visual
Children respond well to visuals, which is why behavior rockets and reward charts work very well. In this case, try the method to draw up a thermometer with numbers to 10 alongside it. A “0” means they do not feel angry at all, with a “10” being the highest level of fury. Ask your child to show you how mad they feel on the thermometer. Talk about how they feel on the inside and the outside when they feel angry, and talk about the way that their body responds at each stage of anger. The clenched fists and gritted teeth need to be identified so that children can learn their own warning signs. They also need to be able to differentiate between anger and hurt feelings or anger and sadness. Sometimes different feelings can happen simultaneously and identifying each feeling can help them step through cause and effect scenarios. This could help them toward learning to control their anger or a myriad of other emotions.
A Calm-Down Plan
Children need to learn how to diffuse their own anger. Instead of punishing the feelings that they are experiencing, you should develop a plan for them to discuss what they are going through. Punishing an emotion only teaches them to repress their feelings. Please give them a place to relax and calm down while they are at their most angry. Get them to put themselves into a time out – not a punishing one – but removing themselves from the cause of the anger to a emotionally safer place can be helpful.
Children learn to take deep breaths, and you can teach them to do so and count while they do it. This can help them to calm their mind and their body and allows them a moment to get their emotions under control. It might take several minutes for them to calm down. It is also good to speak with them about the different emotions they have felt so in future incidents they can recognize feelings when they are happening and what the triggers might have been.
Helping an angry child can be so stressful (I’m not going to sugarcoat it). It’s hard not to get angry yourself even as the adult in the situation. Have an objective, nonemotionally based view of the situation so you can help your child the best. Helping your child learn how to identify their emotions, triggers, and self control is so tricky but can be done with help through these tips and if need be from a professional counselor or mental health advisor. Teaching a child about controlling their anger will be one of the best life skills they can learn!