My 7 year old has a bit of a temper, he is the type of child to kick & scratch when he sometimes doesn’t get his way, it was worst when he was much smaller and his behaviour has greatly improved over time, the older he’s got. My wife and I have always tried to curb this behaviour using various techniques and it usually starts with communicating. His older brother is the complete opposite and I sometimes think the reason he reacts to things this way is because he may be fighting for attention, being the second child and all or its just down to sibling rivalry. He has occasionally thrown tantrums when he doesn't get what he wants, which is normal behaviour for most children, but how do you identify when it's more serious? We'll talk about that a bit more.
If your child has trouble managing their anger, parenting them can be pretty tough. Angry kids get frustrated over trivial things, they scream, yell, or get physically aggressive. While it is OK for kids to be angry from time to time, it is not OK for their anger issues to interfere with their quality of life. Having spent a lot of time, researching the subject and trying different methods to change this sort of behaviour, I’ve put together a guide with tips that could help you parent your angry child. Here’s how to help them deal with their anger in a healthy way.
Start With Yourself
If you often have angry outbursts, or if you have trouble staying calm when things don’t go well for you, your child has likely seen how you behave and has been learning from you.
At the same time, when you yell at your little one when they lash out, it reinforces whatever they are feeling and is actually counterproductive if you want them to stop having outbursts.
Therefore, if you have the habit of shouting around your kids, whether at them or otherwise, you are modeling behaviour that they will copy. Learn how to control your emotions and demonstrate to your child how conflicts, disappointments, and disagreements should be handled.
Teach Them About Feelings
The next thing you have to do is teach your child about the various feelings people can have. Sometimes, children lash out because they do not understand what it is that they are feeling. If they cannot express what they are feeling, they are more likely to lash out to communicate.
Start by teaching them basic feelings like angry, happy, sad, then work your way up to more complicated ones like worried, lonely, and frustrated.
Help Them Develop Emotional Intelligence
If you want your child to handle their anger better, they first need to be comfortable with their feelings. You need to turn your home into a safe space where all emotions can be expressed feelings.
Some kids lash out because they have parents who ridicule their fears. This makes them put a lot of effort into repressing uncomfortable feelings. In the end, they get overwhelmed when these repressed feelings suddenly come out. Over time, this makes them afraid of their feelings, and they become angry all the time as a coping mechanism and it can also affect their self-esteem.
When you help your child develop emotional intelligence, they’ll learn that all feelings are OK to have. This places them in a better position to express themselves in a healthy way.
Teach Them Simple Anger Management Techniques
Simple techniques like taking deep breaths, going for a walk, or counting to 10 can go a long way in helping your child calm down when they are angry.
Keep in mind that they won’t start practicing these things from day one. It’s going to take some time as it is a gradual learning process. Do it right, though, and your little one will have skills that will help them throughout their life.
Avoid Timeouts (At least Until You’ve Talked About The Problem)
Sending your child away to calm down makes them feel like they are all alone when it comes to dealing with their emotions. Instead, consider doing the opposite: take that time to be with your child and help them navigate their feelings. This will make them feel less helpless, and they will start managing their anger in a better way because of it.
Don’t Give In To Tantrums
The last thing you want is for your child to learn that they can get what they want when they have angry outbursts. So, don’t try to silence them by giving them toys or candy, as these things will be interpreted as rewards for their behaviour. They will learn that outbursts are the key to getting what they want. Giving in to tantrums is a short-term solution that only makes the problem worse in the long term.
There Need To Be Consequences For Their Actions
After your child calms down, be sure to follow through with consequences that will show them that angry outbursts and disrespect are things that will not go unpunished, if you are an authoritative parent, you’ll know this all too well. This is where timeouts can be utilised. You can also take away certain privileges or make them clean up or repair what they damaged in anger.
This is some of the behaviour you need to look out for:
They hit people and children in anger or hurt small animals
They hurt themselves physically or threatens to do so
They frequently damage property & have explosive angry outbursts
They argue a lot and are frequently oppositional past the toddler years
They never acknowledge their mistakes and constantly feel picked on or victimised
Lucky for us, our son doesn't display any of these serious behaviours, it's extremely mild in comparison and more manageable. However, children who have trouble dealing with anger will often cling to that anger as a coping mechanism so that they won’t have to face the feelings that caused the anger, like grief, hurt, fear, or even rejection. While they may seem like they are actively trying to drive you away, in most cases it is a cry for help and you should do everything you can to assist them.
I hope these tips help you to parent your angry child more effectively. If you don’t feel like anything you do is proving effective, or if you notice that your child's behaviour is more serious and you are concerned about it, then you may want to seek professional advice. Here are a few organisations you can contact for help.
Youngminds - They can support with issues around anger, anxiety, mental health problems, ADHD, challenging behaviour, among other issues. Parents Helpline: 0808 802 5544
Rethink Mental Illness - Offers advice and help with children's mental problems.
Helpline for parents and guardians: 0300 5000 927
Place2be - They're a children’s mental health charity working with children, students & families. They can also offer support for bullying and discrimination. Helpline: 0800 1111
NSPCC - If you suspect a child may be in severe danger or they may be getting abused then call this number straight away. Helpline: 0808 800 5000