Anger is just an emotion like any other emotion and we all get to feel this emotion every now and then. In fact, being angry is completely normal if expressed in the right way. Just because we as kids were never taught how to deal with it in the right way, we were led to believe that to be angry is to be bad and were also made to feel guilty for expressing anger. That is why dealing with your child’s anger can be draining, and distressing for most parents. No child enjoys the feeling of anger or having angry outbursts. Often, they are reacting to their built up frustration and with the inability to manage these feeling, they react in the way they know best. Kids in young age don’t know how to label their feelings and express what they are feeling in that moment. Children only misbehave when they are unable to express their feeling and also to get your attention. So, how can we teach our kids to express their feeling of anger or frustration in the right way to channel those emotions in a constructive manner?
1. Help them in labelling their feelings
Best way to start it with your kid is to engage with them while they are watching any cartoons and pause it to ask them how they think that a particular character is feeling. Talking about others feelings bring empathy in children and gives them experience of different feelings. When we discuss the reasons with our kids as to why do they feel angry they will learn about labelling the complex feelings of frustration, disappointment or anger. It will help them understand how people feel in certain situations and will less likely to behave in a hurtful manner. Whenever you see your child upset, ask him and help him identify and label his feeling from being sad to frustrated or scared. Labelling their feelings will help them in managing these feeling better eventually correcting their unacceptable behavior.
2. Reinforce Good Behavior
Positive reinforcement of good behavior is a great way to encourage your child to practice their expressions of emotions in the right way. Try doing it by telling on their behavior fi you liked how they behaved responsibly in a situation. Also make them understand if they reacted bad then how it has hurt you and the person on whom he/she reacted.
3. Practice what you preach
Your journey of teaching your child isn’t a short one rather from young age till the end of their teen age. If you want to inculcate the best behavior in them you will have to present yourself as an example for them. If under any circumstances you yell, throw things or react in any way which is not ideal, they will be no effect of your training on your child. Rather in such cases you will be presented with an opportunity to model the desired behavior by expressing what you feel out loud and with what strategies you keep yourself calm.
4. Create boundaries strategically
Your child needs to know that just because they feel angry or upset doesn’t give them a right to misbehave or hit someone. It is important for your child to know when to take a time out. Make them practice to take time out by removing themselves from that situation and find some quiet to deal with their rage. This practice will help them calm down before they do further damage. In case your child lose control and he has to be physically restrained or removed from the scene to prevent him from hurting himself or others. Do it without any hesitation but calmly. This may also “save face” for the child. The child should not see it as punishment but as a means of saying, “You can’t do that.” Remember you cannot afford to lose your patience and react with an unfriendly that can make create a more damaging effect on your child mind.
5. Spontaneous display of love and affection.
Sometimes all that is needed for an angry child to regain control is a sudden hug or other impulsive show of affection. Children with severe emotional problems, however, may have trouble accepting affection. But by a simple touch or hugging your child can give him the security that he was looking for and reacted on the feel of threat. This will also ensure him of your acceptance of him being angry.
6. Ease tension through humor.
Humoring you child out from temper tantrum or outburst offers the child an opportunity to “save face.” However, it is essential for parents to distinguish between face-saving humor and sarcasm as teasing or ridicule in any manner can escalate the situation and more difficult for you to handle.
7. Express directly to the child.
Express yourself and ask for consideration. For example, if in case of your child playing a loud music. You can try to gain your child’s cooperation by saying, “I know that playing music makes you happy and it usually doesn’t bother me, but today I’ve got a headache, so could you find something else you’d enjoy doing or lowering the loud volume?”
8. Explain situations and their gravity
Helping your child to understand what is causing a stressful situation will help them look at it in a different perspective. They will behave in an appropriate fashion when they realise the magnitude and gravity of situation. Never underestimate your child’s capability to understand and realise the cause of their frustration as you will be surprised at how well can they handle themselves better when they do.
9. Communication after every episode
Tell your child and make him believe that you accept his feelings of anger and despair and even then they are valued. Tell them to be politely vocal about their feelings next time and give them an example from the recent event how to do that. Also to make sure this works you need to keep in mind not involving unduly harsh punishment because a child may see it as an attack on his integrity which will not help your situation rather make it worse.
Anger is often a defense mechanism to avoid painful feelings that may be associated with failure, anxiety, low self-esteem, and feelings of isolation are the situations over which the child has no control. Anger defiance may also be associated with feelings of dependency, and anger itself may be related to sadness and depression. In childhood the differentiation between anger and sadness has a very thin line and for children to distinguish between them is very difficult. It is important to remember what an adult demonstrates as sadness is often expressed as anger by a children.
Remember children are like clay that as parents you have to shape in the desired pottery. And it does take your patience and guidance to reach the desired goal. The constant assurance of being loved and valued can help you achieve it. As parents you are smart enough to notice and recognize what is causing them to behave in a certain way and act upon it strategically. You can start by taking points from this article to support your child. If you don’t see any change after sincere good efforts, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. It is ideal for parents to accompany their child while going for counselling sessions so that your child doesn’t feel that there is something wrong with him that needs fixing. The whole family needs to learn how to communicate better to feel loved and satisfy everyone’s emotional needs in the family. An expert/therapist can help you and your child together to do that.