Anger Management for Kids
Anger is a natural emotion for any human. Anger may include outward physical signs such as an increased breathing rate, tension in the muscles, a raised voice and internal thoughts of blame. In very young children, anger may happen because they cannot yet communicate well and cannot control their reactions. As a result, they may have “temper tantrums”, which can be helped with anger management for kids.
At What Age Does Anger Become Noticeable?
Temper tantrums are frequent in children ages one to four and can occur five to nine times a week, with each outburst lasting an average of five to 10 minutes. Temper tantrums can include yelling, crying, kicking and stomping in an attempt to release their frustrations. Eventually, these temper tantrums decrease as children learn how to manage their emotions and voice their concerns appropriately.
How a Parent Can Teach Their Child Anger Management
Before you intervene and start teaching, there are a few guidelines that always apply.
Provide a Safe Environment
Parents have a responsibility to keep a child safe from harm. If a child is showing severe anger, is out of control and might hurt themselves or others, then parents need to step in. Parents need to firmly and gently intervene so that no one gets hurt.
Talk It Over
When things have settled down, let your child talk about what happened. Being able to verbalize their thoughts helps to set the stage for the future, enabling them to express their needs and concerns rather than lash out. Make sure your child is heard and feels safe. Express empathy, but do not excuse bad behavior. This is an excellent time to engage in anger management education.
Be a Role Model
Children are always learning from their caregivers, even when we do not think they are. What we say to them is often less important than how we act in front of them. Practice what you preach. Don’t respond aggressively to situations. Yelling, belittling, or hitting only reinforces that this kind of behavior is accepted, regardless of what you verbally teach your child. Model the behavior you expect and teach.
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Anger Management Education Options
Response Modulation involves teaching a child to problem solve the situation. Instead of getting angry and crying, a child can learn to respond to the environment. For instance, if their toy falls on the floor and breaks, you can help them gather the items and put them back together, rather than letting them kick the pieces around.
Situation modification invokes teaching your child how the situation could have been prevented. This is not meant to blame the child, but to give them a sense of control over the future. “What could we do to keep this from happening next time?” and “Could we have put it in the middle of the table instead of the edge?” are good questions to ask.
Cognitive change involves helping the child understand how to interpret their environment from a different perspective. For instance, young children might blame their sibling for dropping the toy that they accidentally knocked over. In their mind, they may see them at fault. Teaching a child how to see things as they are, rather than make assumptions or assign blame, can help them interpersonally in the future and manage situations thoughtfully.
Anger Management Red Flags
Out-of-control anger outbursts may be a red flag. When a child’s anger is out of proportion to the situation and attempts at anger management do not work, the child might be experiencing “rage attacks”. These rage attacks can signify a severe mood dysregulation, autism, or another psychological disorder like Tourette’s. Rage attacks show a serious lack of ability to control negative emotions. If your child is showing signs of rage attacks, consult your pediatrician for advice.
Raising children is one of the most beautiful and challenging things a person will ever experience. Watching a child throw temper tantrums and being on the verge of a temper tantrum themselves, can test a parent’s patience. However, in the long run, responding to a child’s anger with firmness, compassion and love will set the foundation for the further, making anger outbursts less likely.
Teaching children how to regulate their emotions, appropriately communicate their needs and problem solve will lead to fewer interpersonal conflicts in their future. Children who are socially aware and are emotionally intelligent often have more success in school and in their work life as adults. So, set your child up for success.