It is important to start off by saying that it is ok for your child to feel angry at times and to express his or her anger or frustration. Anger is a natural human emotion that everyone, regardless of their age, will feel at times. The important thing is to help your child learn how to handle his anger. For children, the more we can model and teach them appropriate and healthy behavior, the more successful they will be when trying to handle and overcome their anger.
Some children will hold in their anger and let it build up until they feel like they are going to explode, while others will scream out with hurtful words towards you or others, some will resort to expressing their anger in a physical manner, while other children will shed tears of frustration. It is especially important that you help your children learn to have more self-awareness of their anger while also helping your children to build the necessary self-control to deal with it.
As a parent, it is important for you to learn to recognize the reasons for your child’s anger in order to best help her through it. For some children, there can be a deeper issue causing their anger such as a learning disability, an allergy, or even a developmental disorder that is preventing them from working through their anger. It is important to have open communication with your child regarding what she is feeling, both physically and emotionally whenever anger is present.
Keep notes of what your child is saying and consult with your child’s pediatrician or school counselor in order to determine if there are any biological issues that may be contributing to your child’s anger. After you rule out any biological issues that may be causing your child to feel angry, you can start to try and figure out other potential causes of his anger, such as school pressure, family tension, tension with friends, etc.
As you are trying to help your child learn healthy ways of handling his anger, it is important to note you can always seek out professional help from your child’s school counselor or a professional counselor or psychologist.
Healthy ways for children to learn to handle anger:
1. Model healthy anger management for your child to allow her to learn that all people have to deal with anger. By showing your child how you take time for yourself to calm down and control your anger, she might begin to follow some of your behaviors.
2. For some children, it might help if you find an object that helps to calm him down. For example, some children may find comfort with their favorite toy, stuffed animal or blanket. For other children, certain music might help to calm them down. If you have a child who is able to sit and listen to music for a few minutes, you could try one of the “Calm for Kids” CDs’ guided meditations or others like this.
3. Help teach your child to control his anger in the moment.
4. Help teach your child to practice effective anger management techniques.
5. Help your child to understand what anger feels and looks like.
6. Help your child avoid anger-provoking situations.
7. Help your child learn healthy decision-making skills.
8. Help your child to express her feelings and fully understand them.
9. Help your child identify his anger cues.
10. Most importantly, help your child learn that she has choices about how to express anger.
Specific techniques that you can teach your children to help them work through their anger when it occurring:
1. Stop and think: Help your child to remember a time when he was able to stop anger. Your child can also keep anger in check by thinking positive thoughts regarding his ability to overcome the anger.
2. Breathe: Remind your child to take slow, deep breathes to try and control her anger.
3. Exercise: Help your child to think of a physical activity that might help to calm him down (e.g., running in place, stomping the feet, or clapping hands).
4. Take a time out: Sometimes steeping away from the problem or situation can help your child to calm down.
5. Distract yourself: Help your child to focus on something that makes her happy in order to help her stop the angry thoughts.
6. Talk it Out: Help your child learn that by talking about anger, you can better control it. Help your child identify people at home and at school that he can talk to when angry.
7. Remember what’s next: Help your child to remember what will happen if she gets angry.
8. Know your anger signs: Help your child learn to recognize his anger in order to take the necessary steps to control it.
Overall, it is important to remind your child that good consequences such as the following will come from controlling anger in a healthy way: they can control the situation, they will get along better with friends, they will be able to help others who are angry, they won’t get into trouble at school or at home, they will learn how to handle stressful situations better, they will feel more confident when solving problems, and most importantly, they will feel better and be happier altogether!
Dr. Allison Johnson, PhD, LAC, of Dr. Johnson Counseling Services, LLC, is a therapist and educational psychologist who specializes in therapy for children, adolescents and adults in Bergen County. She is a Licensed Associate Counselor, a certified school counselor, teacher and school administrator who focuses on helping adolescents and young adults with issues related to body image and self-esteem, relationships, anger management, coping and stress management, transition, and career development and exploration. Additionally, she has a great deal of experience working with at-risk adolescents on an academic, personal, social and emotional level. Dr. Johnson earned her doctoral degree from Fordham University. You can contact her at the following: Phone: (973) 769-6304, Email: [email protected] , Website: www.drjohnsoncounselingservices.com.
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