Advertising

Last Updated on January 29, 2021

How To Help Your Child To Cope With Anger

Advertising
How To Help Your Child To Cope With Anger

Kids have a way of disarming parents with their innocent smiles and sweet comments. However, nothing can quite prepare you for the wrath of an angry child.

Anger is a natural response to injustice or frustration. Kids aren’t born with emotional awareness and control, though, so it’s up to parents to help them deal with it. Fortunately, most kids outgrow outbursts and temper tantrums by the time they’re seven or eight. By then, they’ve learned self-control and can vocalize their frustrations better.

There are times when a child’s anger can be a sign of a deeper problem. Knowing the warning signs can be the first step in getting appropriate help.

When should you worry? What are ways to help a child cope with anger?

Is It Normal for My Child to Be So Angry?

Children can get upset for a variety of reasons. Often, it doesn’t seem like it should be a big deal, but kids have big emotions. You never know what might set them off. It might be spilled juice, a missing toy, the wrong kind of cereal, or socks that feel weird. Kids will communicate it often and in a wide variety of ways.

Here are the most common ways an angry child will express their feelings:

  • Crying
  • Screaming
  • Kicking
  • Biting
  • Yelling
  • Stomping
  • Pushing

Kids expressing themselves this way are exhibiting typical childhood behavior and usually self-correct with guidance and help.[1]

Sometimes, the situation is complicated because the anger is a symptom of a more serious issue. This requires more diligent efforts and possibly the help of a professional.

When Is Anger Extreme?

You may need to get further help if your child struggles with any of the following:

Advertising

  • They have tantrums and outbursts that go beyond 7 or 8 years old.
  • Their anger interferes with relationships at home and interrupts family life.
  • The child becomes dangerous to themself or others.
  • The child feels bad about it.
  • The child’s anger causes problems with other kids at school.
  • The frequency and intensity of outbursts increase as the child gets older.

These are signs that the anger is out of control and might point to an underlying issue.[2]

What Are the Common Sources of Anger?

It can be both frustrating and scary to realize your child may have an anger issue. You want answers so you can help your child. This list is not exhaustive but provides a good starting point. These are all common and can cause unexplained or extreme anger in your child.

1. Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)

This disorder is relatively new, so it’s uncertain how widespread it is. There are specific things to look for, however.[3]

  • Three or more severe outbursts a week, on average
  • Outbursts that have lasted at least 12 months
  • Chronically irritable or bad mood
  • Trouble functioning in multiple environments
  • Irritation is out of proportion to the situation, extreme for what would be considered normal for that age

DMDD is most often diagnosed between the ages of six and ten.

2. ADHD

Kids with ADHD can be more likely to struggle with anger. They tend to be more sensitive and impulsive, making their emotions harder to control. Frustrations from school or other kids can accumulate and make an outburst seem sudden and inappropriate. It can be hard for them to slow down mentally and physically and is even more difficult to do when under pressure or stressed.[4]

3. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Aggression is a common symptom of ASD and often takes the form of self-injury, temper tantrums, impulsivity, and irrational moods. Kids on the spectrum have a hard time with social interaction and boundaries.[5]

4. Environment

A child dealing with trauma or an unhealthy environment will be more likely to act aggressively. This can be hard for parents to acknowledge, but sometimes children learn anger at home. Or maybe they are dealing with something traumatic. The important thing is to pinpoint the problem and work as a family to fix it. It is better to reach out for help early on, so that good habits can be established.

How You Can Help Your Child Overcome Anger?

You may be asking, “What now?” With so much information available, it can be hard to figure out what’s best for your family and dealing with your angry child. Temper tantrums can be disruptive and hard to deal with, even if they only last a few years.

If your child has been diagnosed with a disorder, you might be feeling a mix of sorrow and relief. The process can be overwhelming. Often it means making large life changes as the family adjusts. It can take time to find the “new normal.”

Advertising

The good news is that finding answers and knowing what you’re facing can help you move forward. Those first steps feel good because you know you’re headed in the right direction.

Fortunately, there are many ways a child can learn anger management skills. With time and dedication, your child can learn specific techniques that will help process emotions. What are some of those methods?

1. Emotion Regulation

Emotion regulation is the ability to monitor when and how you have emotions and knowing what to do with them. It is a significant milestone in child development, and parents play a crucial role. How?

Imitation is the best way for children to learn how to regulate their emotions. Kids learn emotion regulation by watching those around them. You can show your angry child how to handle their feelings by being a good role model.[6]

It can be hard to stay calm in the heat of the moment. Here are some tips for getting control of your anger:[7]

  • Think before you speak.
  • Exercise.
  • Take a time-out.
  • Express yourself after you’re calm.
  • Don’t attack or criticize others.
  • Use humor to ease the conflict.
  • Look for solutions instead of focusing on the problem.
  • Know when to seek help.

2. Communication Strategies

Effective communication is key to relationships. Children struggle with finding the right words to convey what they’re thinking.

You can help your child learn good communication skills by:

  • Teaching your child a variety of words to use for different emotions
  • Allowing your child to describe their emotions by asking questions

3. Conflict Resolution

Knowing how to resolve conflict is an invaluable skill. Kids can begin learning it at an early age. Watch for opportunities to teach your child how to handle those stressful situations.

One example would be when you hear an argument take place. Step in to guide the process but be careful not to give the answers. Hear both sides of the story, and give each person a chance to come up with a resolution. Another way is to try turning it into a game to help make it memorable and fun, which can help your angry child calm down.

Advertising

4. The Stoplight Method

This method helps an angry child learn to calm down on their own. Practice it when they’re relaxed, so they can remember the process when they’re stressed.

  1. Have your child close his eyes and picture a stoplight.
  2. When the light is red, take three deep breaths and think of something relaxing.
  3. When the light turns yellow, it’s time to evaluate the problem. Think of two ways to solve the problem. Does he need an adult’s help?
  4. When the light turns green, it’s time to try one of the solutions out.

This visualization game helps build the patterns necessary to think a problem through.[8]

5. Exercise

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress, increase focus, and give an overall boost. There’s another reason to consider including it in the list of treatments, though. If your child is overweight, aerobic exercise can be an effective way to reduce anger and aggression.[9]

A Quick Look at Behavioral Therapy

For children dealing with other disorders, the above methods might not be enough. While it can be discouraging, there is plenty of help available. With a little extra help, your child can have emotional control, too.

What other treatments are available? What can you expect next?

1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

A therapist does this type of treatment. The goal is for the child to recognize their thoughts and feelings and change the ones that negatively affect behavior. By identifying patterns and reactions, an angry child can learn to respond differently.[10]

2. Parent Management Training (PMT) for Behavior Therapy

This is similar to CBT but teaches parents how to respond to their child positively. The focus is on positive reinforcement, which is also a great way to build up the parent-child relationship.

Interestingly, this therapy involves some of the methods previously mentioned. Children are taught emotion regulation and CBT while parents focus on being good role models.

There are other key components, such as:

Advertising

  • Education
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Ignoring negative behavior
  • Rewards
  • Set standards
  • Allowing consequences

You Can Make a Difference Today

You have a list of treatments, but how are they put into action? What does it look like in everyday life? You can start today by teaching your child:

  • Self-Imposed Cool Off Time (SICOT): children close their eyes, rest their head on the desk or in their hands, and focus on calming down.
  • Anger itself is not bad. Everyone gets angry.
  • What happens to your body when you get angry
  • How thoughts influence our actions
  • Self-calming techniques, such as counting backward, breathing exercises, relaxing face and neck muscles, and unclenching fists
  • Self-awareness and triggers
  • Key phrases such as, “I’m frustrated/angry/irritated because…” “I am breathing calm.”

Is Punishment Appropriate?

It would be nice if there were a permanent solution and an angry child was never an issue again. Of course, that’s not the case, and your child will still make mistakes. Even adults do not handle their anger well at times, no matter how well-intentioned they might usually be.

You will have to decide when and what form of punishment is necessary. Keep in mind that sometimes, punishment can produce the opposite effect.

Here are some ways to make sure you’re making a positive impact, whatever route you decide to take:[11]

  • Be motivated by the desire to help.
  • Show your child their feelings are valid.
  • Give examples of acceptable ways to handle the situation.
  • Use plenty of positive reinforcement and praise them when they handle a situation well.
  • Avoid tempting or troubling circumstances when possible.
  • Use attention, affection, and touch to build your child up.
  • Don’t put your child down. Instead, focus on strengths.
  • Set clear limits. Have household rules that everyone is expected to follow.

Important Things to Remember as a Parent

Remember, you love your child more than anyone else. You want your child to succeed and live a healthy life. Be a positive role model and show patience as your child navigates emotions. Regardless of the severity of the anger, you can help your angry child reach realistic goals, and help is always available when you need it.

Knowing is half the battle, so arm yourself with knowledge. You’ll be more prepared, more confidant, and better able to withstand storms.

More Tips on How to Deal With an Angry Child

Featured photo credit: Alexander Dummer via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Yale Medicine: Anger, Irritability, and Aggression in Kids
[2] Child Mind Institute: Is My Child’s Anger Normal?
[3] National Institute of Mental Health: Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
[4] Understood ADHD and Anger: What You Need To Know
[5] Center for Disease Control: Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder
[6] Sage Journals: Social Learning Theory
[7] Mayo Clinic: Anger Management: 10 Tips to Tame Your Anger
[8] PBS: Five Strategies to Help Kids Resolve Conflict
[9] NCBI: Aerobic Exercise Program Reduces Anger Expression Among Overweight Children
[10] Center for Disease Control: Behavior Therapy
[11] Child Development Institute: Anger Management for Kids and Parents

More by this author

Adrienne Koziol

Adrienne is an educator, blogger, and mother of 9. She loves to help people reach their goals in relationships, health, and life.

20 Healthy and Tasty Family Meals Ideas to Try This Week Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide) 35 Easy And Healthy Dinner Ideas For Kids How Much Screen Time Should Kids Have And Why? How To Help Your Child To Cope With Anger

Trending in Parenting

1 How to Get Kids to Listen And Respect You 2 Parallel Parenting vs Co-Parenting: How To Know Which Is Best For You? 3 10 Best Podcasts For Kids to Enjoy While Learning at the Same Time 4 20 Healthy and Tasty Family Meals Ideas to Try This Week 5 Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on August 26, 2021

How to Get Kids to Listen And Respect You

Advertising
How to Get Kids to Listen And Respect You

Do your kids listen to you the first time you ask them to do something? If not, then you may have to keep reading. Kids will truly listen when there is mutual respect between you and them. They will listen to you when they know that when you say something, you mean it.

Here are ten tips on how to get your kids to listen and respect you.

1. Show Mutual Respect

You can get kids to listen by demanding authority and ruling with an iron fist, but at what cost? You can yell and scream your kids into submission and obedience, but at what cost? The cost will be your relationship with your child in the long run, as resentments will form in them.

If you don’t show respect for your kids, it is going to be hard to get them to listen to you. They may obey, but if you act as a tyrant who demands that kids do what you say because you are the one in charge, then you are fighting a losing battle. The basis of your relationship must begin with respect. Mutual respect is the foundation for any relationship, including the parent-child relationship.

2. Avoid Yelling

When yelling and dominance are the themes of the relationship, then an undercurrent of resentment will develop in the child. Nobody wants to feel dominated, nor do they want to feel that they are of less value than another person.

Let your child know that you value them through respectful interactions. You are still the parent, but you can parent and get your kids to listen through respectful interaction. When you use demanding, authoritarian parenting methods, you are undermining your relationship with the child and resentments are likely to form.

Avoid yelling to gain respect from your child. If you fall back to yelling, screaming, and making demands, then you are undermining your ability to gain your child’s respect in the long run.

Advertising

3. Use the Golden Rule

Respect is founded on the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated. If you want your child to respect you, you must also treat them with respect. This means talking to your child in a tone that is kind, genuine, and considerate. Granted, this is not easy when your four-year-old is having a meltdown in aisle 5 of the grocery store and you have many more errands to run, work to do, and no extra time on hand. It takes practice to parent without yelling and heightened emotions.

We are still people and get mad at our kids. However, we have to keep in mind that they are learning and we have far more years of practice at these things. We must keep our cool and maintain authority while parenting.

How do you want to be talked to when you are having a bad day and feel like melting down? That is how you should talk to your child who is having a meltdown and is obviously having a bad day. Kindness, love, and respect, when paired with authority, will create a relationship where your child will listen and respect you. Treat them as you want to be treated.

4. Ensure that Your Words Have Consequences

We know that mutual respect is the first step to getting our kids to listen. This respect will help them be open to what we have to say. If they feel that they matter because you respect them, then they will develop respect for you. This will help when it comes to disciplining your child.

The second step is ensuring that our words have consequences. When it comes to discipline, your words must have weight. If you say you are going to do something, you must do it.

For example, if you ask your child to stop hitting the couch while you are typing an article for Lifehack and they keep hitting it, then let them know that if they don’t stop, they get a five-minute time-out. True story, this just happened. He stopped. Why did he stop? Because he knew I meant what I said. If he didn’t stop, he knew it would mean an immediate time out, not an additional warning and more time to carry on with the behavior that I asked him to stop.

I asked in a calm voice while looking into his eyes, letting him know I was serious. He also knows that I mean what I say because he is now seven years old and has experienced consistent follow-through with punishments for years. I don’t ask the same thing several times. I also don’t make threats. I follow through with reasonable punishments when the instructions and requests are not followed by my child.

Advertising

5. Avoid Big Threats

I have seen parents make big threats, thinking that the bigger the threat, the more the child is likely to stop the behavior. This is not reasonable, nor is it a good idea. Big threats that you don’t follow through with make your words meaningless.

For example, if I had told my son that I was going to throw away his toys if he didn’t stop hitting the couch, that would have been unreasonable. Throwing away toys that cost a bit of money to buy as a consequence of a small infraction (hitting the couch while I am typing) is unreasonable. If he kept hitting the couch, what would I do? It would be unrealistic to actually throw away the toys.

Therefore, many parents in this instance keep making the same threat with no actual follow-through. The threats continue because the behavior continues and even escalates (i.e. the couch hitting gets louder and harder) and finally, the parent must throw away the toys and/or resorts to a different punishment to stop the escalation.

The escalation could have been avoided by stating realistic consequences and following through the first time. Time-outs and taking away a toy or a privilege are all reasonable. I often take away my kid’s tablet time or give five-minute time-outs as a consequence. I avoid making big threats that I cannot follow through with in good conscience. It helps me in the long run because when I give reasonable consequences, I can easily follow through with the punishment at that moment and not feel terrible.

Avoid making big threats that you cannot follow through with in good conscience. Instead, provide consequences with warnings and ensure that the punishment is worthy of the behavior. Small infractions should get small consequences. Big infractions require more serious consequences. Don’t make a habit of making big threats of big consequences that you can’t actually enforce.

6. Follow Through

A method of parenting where a parent follows through with their consequences immediately is called the “one ask approach.” In this method, a parent asks their child only once to do something. If they don’t do it, then the parent provides a consequence if they don’t do as asked.

For example, if you ask your child to put their dishes in the sink but they don’t get up and start doing the task, then the parent can let the child know the consequence if they don’t follow through with what was asked. If they don’t put away their dishes, they are going to lose half an hour of their TV time. They don’t get three warnings or even two. One warning is all that is provided. If they don’t follow instructions, then the consequence is dealt out.

Advertising

In this example, if the child doesn’t put away their dishes after the warning is provided, then the parent follows through and says “I am sorry, but now you lost half of your TV time for tonight.” The parent must then not allow the child to watch TV and can suggest reading books or playing outside instead. This method will help you parent with consistency.

7. Give Them Your Full Attention

When you are speaking to your child look them in the eye and give them your full attention. This approach is much more fruitful in getting your child to listen than distracted, partial attention.

Case in point: if a parent is playing a game on their phone and yells across the room to have their child go do their homework, the interaction is less meaningful than making a face-to-face request. If the parent sets down their phone and walks over to their child and looks in their child’s eyes and says, “it is time to stop watching tv for now and do your homework, you can watch after your homework is finished,” it is much more likely to be fruitful because full attention is provided.

Giving your child your full attention with eye contact and face-to-face interactions shows them that you care and you are serious about what you are saying. This will go a long way toward getting your child to listen and respond to what you have to say.

8. Show Genuine Care

Showing that you care is immensely meaningful to any child. Your child needs to know that you care about them. Your words, actions, and tone of voice show that you care. If you care, be sure to show it.

For example, if I want my kids to set the table for dinner, yelling at them saying “you know its time for dinner, you should have set the table five minutes ago” will not be as productive as making a caring statement. Such a caring statement could be “you do a great job setting the dinner table. It is so nice to work together, with me making the meal and you setting the table so we can enjoy time together each night. Can you set the table in the next twenty minutes before dinner?”

Showing your child that you care will help build a positive relationship, and your child will be more likely to listen and respect you. Your words and actions in your daily interaction will show that you genuinely care for your child.

Advertising

9. Show Them That You Value Them

Giving your child your full attention also shows them that you care and that they are valued. Everyone wants to feel valued. Our children should always feel that we value them.

Some ways that you can give your child attention and show that they are valued include the following:

  • Praise your child.
  • Give physical affections, such as hugs.
  • Show interest in their activities.
  • Get on their level when talking.
  • Make eye contact and smile while interacting.
  • Give positive feedback in your daily interactions.
  • Provide them with support in accomplishing daily activities (i.e. help your child tie their shoes and teach them at the same time as they are learning this task).
  • Build up your child with positive messages.
  • Reassure your child when they are fearful.
  • Support your child when they are upset.
  • Make time to spend with your child one on one daily.
  • Respond to your child every time they talk to you (do not ignore them).
  • Ask your child about their day with meaningful, open-ended questions.

According to the article, Positive Attention and Your Child,[1]

“From birth, children need experiences and relationships that show them they’re valued, capable human beings who bring pleasure to others. Positive attention, reactions and responses from key grown-ups help children build a picture of how valued they are.”

Children must be told and shown that they are valued. What we say and how we act toward our children should be done in a way that makes them consistently feel valued. This will help build a relationship where listening and respect go both ways.

10. Be a Good Role Model

To get your kids to listen and respect you, then you must also be a good role model worthy of respect. Kids watch their parents and caregivers and thus, will imitate their behavior.

Case in point: if you consistently object to figures of authority and do not follow rules or laws, then your child is observing and learning this from you. They will learn that they do not need to listen to or respect authority figures. Be an example that teaches your child to listen and respect others by your own behaviors and modeling.

Advertising

The Bottom Line

The bottom line to teaching kids to listen and respect you is to treat them with respect and follow through with consequences. Your words must have weight, and this only happens when you are consistent with your follow-through. Treating your child with love, respect, care, and affection is important to creating a relationship where they want to listen to you and mutually respect you.

More Parenting Tips

Featured photo credit: Tanaphong Toochinda via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] raisingchildren.net.au: Positive attention and your child

Read Next