Helping Kids Manage Their Anger
Let your child know that anger is OK. Don’t try to stop it, but help your child learn to talk through things and let her know that you will always listen. Most of the time, just talking it out diffuses the anger. Sometimes the same topic will need to be re-visited over and over again, but keep working at it until it is resolved. Always remaining loving, kind, and respectful during these situations.
Remember kindness and respect are the keys to healthy relationships. If relationships are not based on kindness and respect then anger is going to be present. Help your child understand this truth about all relationships. Even if your child doesn’t particularly like someone, it is still important to be respectful and to be kind as much as possible. Where basic kindness and respect are lacking, problems result. Anger is not an excuse for disrespect.
It is inevitable that you will not always agree
with your child or approve of all of their choices. As long as kindness and respect
are present, however, and you accept your child for whom he or she is, then
anger issues will be diffused. Remember that you don’t necessarily have to
approve of who your child is as a person, but it is vital that you accept
who your child is. Acceptance is fundamental, even when you are not in
agreement. Your child is her own person, and some parents spend many years and
many tears understanding that acceptance is the foundation. Disagreement is ok,
rejection is not. Certainly rejection
will lead to (among other problems) anger.
Share with your child how you manage your own
anger. You might use prayer, meditation, deep
breathing, physical exercise, and talking it out to help release anger.
Prayer and meditation are more medium to long-term solutions while deep
breathing, exercising, and talking it out are quick, short-term solutions to
diffuse the immediate anger. My ten-year-old son finds that deep breathing is
especially beneficial before talking out the situation and explaining his view
of things. He also uses prayer to center himself and feels that he is more
balanced and can deal with his fluctuating emotions easier by doing so. Some
time ago, he also created a poster for his room that reads “If I get too angry,
I walk away from the situation”. That has helped remind him to take a breather
when needed and cool off.
Sometimes children do not seem to know why they are particularly angry. They may feel an accumulation of anger due to seemingly insignificant issues. By being a loving, supporting parent and seeing past anger behaviors, your child will be able to being to deal with these small issues one at a time. Also, if you spend time with your child simply asking her to “feel into the anger” and talking about it calmly; often sadness will eventually come up and you can explore that together. Getting through the layers of anger can often feel like peeling an onion, but anger is like that sometimes. Just keep peeling. Stick with her through the tears, the yelling, the upset, and let her know that no matter what, you accept and love her. You both need to remember that you will get through this together.
Ultimately you are a model for your child. If you express your anger in undesirable ways, your child will too. Use the anger management tools yourself as you teach them. You want to teach your child to deal with even the small issues so that anger does not become a habit or that it becomes deep seated as a teenager. Of course, as a loving parent, you can deal with all types of anger by coming back to these principles, but early intervention is best. As you teach your child anger management, stay calm and stay focused on your task as guide and teacher rather than getting personally angered by any situation. Try not to take their anger personally.
In the end, true love is about the personal commitment to one another through the easy parts and the tough ones. Anger is an emotion that does not have to be the sore spot of a family. Breathe deeply and use love, respect and kindness to heal anger and build a healthy loving family relationship.