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Teach Your Child How to Control Anger

Anger is a natural human emotion. Usually stemming from fear, anger is meant to inform us that something is wrong or that we are being threatened in some way.

Children are not always able to express themselves calmly and in words. Frustration with people, things or situations occurs frequently, especially before children have the vocabulary to talk things out.

There are ways to teach your child how to control their anger and express thoughts and feelings in a more effective way. The methods you choose will depend on their age and developmental readiness.

One of the best ways to teach your child how to handle anger is by modeling control yourself. Parents are not immune to anger! Our thoughtful and reasonable responses to troubling situations and events will help them know it is possible to do the same.

Preschool

Young babies are not able to meet their own needs. Crying is normal for a baby as it signals a need has arisen. Responding to your baby’s cries before they become out of control will show them someone is attending to their needs. Frustrated babies tend to become frustrated children and adults. You cannot spoil a baby! So attend to their needs calmly and promptly.

Preschoolers are notorious for frustration and anger. They also have a limited capacity to express and obtain what they need. Helping them to stop, take a deep breath and “find their words Emay prevent a further loss of control. Using cue words each time such as “Stop. Now breathe. That’s it. Now find your words. EThis simple sequence if consistently used may help them in the present, but also give them the skill and discipline they will need later in life.

If your child becomes enraged, give them time to cool down before attempting to discuss it.

A full-blown tantrum is another story. Most tantrums are a deliberate attempt to control parents or gain attention. Minor tantrums can be ignored, proving their ineffectiveness. Major tantrums need to be dealt with differently. If your young child persists in extreme tantrums find a counselor or physician to help you know what to do to help your child. In the meantime, stay calm.

Be sure to listen to your child. Make opportunities to spend time one-on-one. Take them to the park for a walk. Spend time in nature. Provide a quiet area for play and vary the materials they have to play with. Arts and crafts can help youngsters express themselves better than words.

If your child can verbalize their feelings, respond with empathy. You may not be able to “fix Ethe problem, but your child has been heard.
Trust that learning to control anger is a process and that life will provide the needed practice.

Main points to address:

  • Learn to discern your baby’s cries and respond to them promptly.
  • Listen to your toddler.
  • Use distraction, time in nature, music and art as techniques to diminish a tendency toward anger.
  • Live in joy yourself, exercising self-control and empathy.
  • Get help from a counselor or doctor if anger is a persistent problem.

Grades K-3rd

Children of this age show their anger primarily by crying. Anything that seems confusing, overwhelming or unfair may ignite their outrage. Occasionally a child may even strike out in anger. Finding ways to prevent escalation is important. Teaching children to find words to express their feelings by using similar cues to those given above may give them time to gather themselves.

Never minimize a child’s fear or anger. Using too upbeat of an approach will show them you don’t see their predicament and probably won’t be able to help them. Part of a child’s training is looking to caring adults to show them a way to express and solve their problems. Denying the bigness of your child’s feeling will cause him to go “underground Ewith them and express feelings in other, less constructive ways.

Showing your children alternate responses to trying situations can be done by role-playing. Switching roles can be fun and help them consider new ways of dealing with their perceived or real problems.

Meditation or prayer may be one way your family keeps things in perspective. Children can learn to use this quiet time to get back to center.

School will likely provide lots of material for frustration, hurt and anger. Develop a working relationship with your son or daughter’s teacher so that you can find ways to help your child. If anger seems to occur more often or more intensely than seems normal for his age, find a counselor to help you and your child.

Proper rest and nutrition, recreation, out of doors activity and family time can boost a child’s inner reserve of love and self-worth. Express your love often with hugs and words. Let them know how important they are to you. Sometimes all a child has between themselves and the world is you.

Main points to address:

  • Help your child find words to express their anger. Give them time to calm down, then listen.
  • Try not to minimize concerns. Do not use logical reasoning when your child is enraged.
  • Resist the temptation to solve problems for your child. They need to learn to do this on their own. If need be, step in as an advocate.
  • Rest, nutrition, recreation, fresh air and time spent with you can help your child function at their best.

Grades 4-6th

Older children still get angry, but most have found ways to process their feelings in a constructive way. Responding in violent or extreme ways is rare and signals a need for help.

Letting kids know that you experience anger too can help them know they are okay if they have anger. Now and then you may want to casually relay a trying incident and how you responded earlier that day.

Playing “What If Eby asking family members what they would do if someone crowded in line at the super market, or took a basketball from your hands or called your dog ugly. This can be a fun way to rehearse appropriate and reasonable responses to life’s disappointments and surprises.

Your child may profit by journaling or keeping a feelings book. Sometimes writing the words down or drawing a picture can help clarify and sort out issues. You may want to keep one too!

Letting kids know they cannot control or be responsible for someone else’s behavior can limit “righteous indignation Eexperienced at this age. Knowing that the only person they can control is themselves will empower them to exercise their own self-control.

Main points to address:

  • Listen to your child.
  • Practice alternate responses to trying situations and people.
  • Provide a notebook or journal for recording and processing feelings.
  • Continue to model self-control. Let them know they are responsible for their own attitudes and behaviors, but not those of others.
  • Get help if you need to.

Resources
Resources that can help you in your venture include:

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