We all get angry at one time or another, no matter how old -- or how young -- we are. But while we can try to control our own anger, how do we help our children control theirs? The first thing to do when your child gets out of control is to stay calm yourself and then you'll be able to help him or her with these key steps:
- Allow your child to recognize and express anger, but try to encourage this expression to be in a calm way. You can help your child develop a vocabulary of feelings such as anger and frustration. If your child can name the feelings, they may not seem so overwhelming.
Sit down with your child and discuss the angry feelings together, getting to the cause of what is bothering him or her. Remind the child that anger is a normal emotion and it is okay to feel this way, but it isn't okay to lash out in the moment. Help channel the anger into more constructive approaches.
Make sure you are really listening to your child when he or she talks. Sometimes children get angry because they don't feel truly heard. Remember not to judge what the child says but to be an objective sounding board.
Look beyond the surface of the anger to see where it is coming from. Is the anger in response to a specific situation or could it be masking a deeper problem? If your child gets angry frequently, consider whether he or she may really be anxious or insecure. Often tension in the family can lead children to be angry.
Help your child recognize the warning signs when he or she is getting angry. By understanding what happens when anger is triggered, your child will be better able to regulate his or her behavior.
Try refocusing your child's anger by examining its impact. For instance, if your child is having a tantrum, turn the attention off of the negative behavior and talk about how sad seeing him or her in distress like that makes you feel and how much you prefer to see smiles. This could spark a conversation about things that might make the child feel happy and deflect further anger.
Give your child the full attention he or she seeks to resolve the problem. This can often calm down an angry child and will allow you to problem solve together.
Set limits for your child so he or she feels safe by knowing you are in charge. This provides an important sense of security that can help him or her feel calmer.
Let your children know it is okay not to be perfect. Show them that you make mistakes, too, and it's part of being human. If your children learn to laugh at themselves, they may just forget to be angry.