Children and Anger Management

Children become overwhelmed with emotions, and by the time they’re feeling angry or resentful, it is already too late to control it. The time to teach kids about how to handle emotions is before they are faced with a crisis. Your goal is to help your child learn better and healthier ways of managing their emotions. The key is to focus on the underlying thinking and the faulty problem-solving that triggers the whole crisis.

How to help children with anger

Many parents try to deal with their child’s emotions first because they believe that’s where the bad behavior is coming from. Focus on the thinking behind the action or behavior and not just the emotion. Focusing a child on his feelings of anger and frustration will not change his behavior. You have to focus him on the original thought or perception that made him think doing what he did was appropriate.

When a child acts out, instead of asking them why they did what they did, try and understand what triggered their behavior. That way, you’re then able to help them on how to handle their crisis. The primary goal of behavioral change is to get a child to do something different when they’re upset, angry, or afraid and not to stop them from getting angry. Help them find better ways to deal with their anger when it next happens.  Never invalidate their feelings or emotions but rather help them on how to better handle them. Focus on your child’s thinking, not their emotions. This is the most powerful step you can make toward changing their behavior. If you focus on controlling their emotions, next time you will only get excuses and justifications because it’s impossible for them not to get angry.

Understanding anger

Help children to understand their anger. Most people often confuse anger with aggression and children are often modeled to think in the same way. Aggression is behavior that is intended to cause harm to another person or damage property. Anger, on the other hand, is an emotion and does not necessarily lead to aggression. Therefore teach your kids that, a person can become angry without necessarily acting aggressively.

Anger is a normal reaction to an upsetting situation, being hostile is what needs to be addressed not anger. Teach your children healthy ways of handling their anger but never try and stop them from being angry because suppressed anger is also detrimental to problem-solving.

The Development of anger in children

The first stage of anger is the emotional state then followed by the expression of anger. The first component is the emotion itself, defined as an affective or arousal state, or a feeling experienced when a goal is blocked or needs are frustrated. The child experiences an emotional state of anger. This can be caused by physical assault, conflict over possessions, verbal conflict, rejection, or being forced to do something that the child doesn’t want to do.

When this happens then children express their anger and this will be in different forms depending on the child. This is the level where intervention is mostly targeted. Some children vent or express anger through facial expressions, crying, sulking, or talking, but do little to try to solve the problem or confront the provocateur. Others actively resist physically or verbally defending their positions, self-esteem, or possessions in nonaggressive ways. Still, other children express anger with aggressive revenge by physically or verbally retaliating against the provocateur. Some children express dislike. Other children express anger through avoidance or attempt to escape from or evade the provocateur. And some children use adult seeking, looking for comfort or solutions from an adult be it a teacher, or parent.

Adults can use child guidance strategies to help children express angry feelings in socially constructive ways. Children develop ideas about how to express emotions primarily through social interaction in their families and later by watching television or movies, playing video games, and reading books. Modeling is also significant as some children learn a negative, aggressive approach to expressing anger and, when confronted with everyday anger conflicts, resort to using aggression. A major challenge for parents is to encourage children to acknowledge angry feelings and to help them learn to express their anger in positive and effective ways.

Adults can help children deal with anger by guiding their understanding and management of this emotion. Children need to be taught practices that can help them understand and manage angry feelings in a direct and non-aggressive way.

Ways to help children be able to deal with their anger

  1. Create a Safe Emotional Climate that permits children to acknowledge all feelings, pleasant and unpleasant, and does not shame anger.
  2. Model Responsible Anger Management. Children have an impaired ability to understand emotions when adults show a lot of anger. Adults who are most effective in helping children manage anger model responsible management by acknowledging, accepting, and taking responsibility for their own angry feelings and by expressing anger in direct and nonaggressive ways.
  3. Encourage children to label feelings of anger. Parents can help young children produce a label for their anger by teaching them that they are having a feeling and that they can use a word to describe their angry feeling.
  4. Encourage children to talk about anger-arousing interactions. Children better understand emotions when adults explain them. When children are embroiled in an anger-arousing interaction, parents can help by listening without judging, evaluating, or ordering them to feel differently.
  5. Use books and stories about anger to help children understand and manage anger. Well-presented stories about anger and other emotions validate children’s feelings and give information about anger. It is important to preview all books about anger because some stories teach irresponsible anger management.
  6. Maintain open lines of communication. Parents can assist children to learn to express emotions by allowing them to talk openly to them about their emotions. Children guided toward responsible anger management are more likely to understand and manage angry feelings directly and non-aggressively and to avoid the stress often accompanying poor anger management

Throughout life, there are times when help is needed to address problems and issues that cause emotional distress or make children feel overwhelmed. When experiencing these types of difficulties, individuals may benefit from the assistance of an experienced, trained professional.

If you need to speak to a professional counselor, or you need your children to be assisted by a professional counselor, don’t forget to get in touch with Psyche and Beyond.



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