Anger can be an emotion that is difficult for even some adults to manage in healthy ways. Therefore, it is reasonable that many children have a hard time knowing how to handle their anger, as well.
As children grow and mature, they learn about how to manage their feelings, how to act when they feel certain emotions, and what emotions are “acceptable” and which ones are not.
Many mental health professionals will claim that all emotions are acceptable or that all emotions are okay. This is true; However, it is no fun to live a life filled with negative emotions.
When your child’s anger seems more frequent than the average child his age, then you may want to consider being more active in trying to help him manage his anger which includes knowing how to behave when angry as well as not feeling as angry as often.
Note that if your efforts do not seem to be helping, you should consult with a professional therapist or doctor for further evaluation and treatment.
When helping your child overcome his anger, it can be helpful to understand the reasons for his anger. Kids really do have a strong need to feel understood and heard. You can find out a great deal from a child if you just let them talk without providing any of your own input. However, some kids don’t really know how to express themselves with words. Some may not even fully understand the source of their anger (sometimes adults do this, as well).
Although there are numerous reasons why a child might be angry, here is a sample of some possibilities.
Life changes, such as
- Parents getting a divorce, a move, changing schools, or a new baby in the family
- Being bullied
- Not doing well in school
- Low self-esteem or low self-confidence
- Feeling like they don’t belong or don’t fit in (human beings have a need for belonging)Not feeling like they get enough attention
- Not feeling understood
- Having too many responsibilities and not enough down time
- Living in an environment not in line with their temperament/personality (ex: living in a loud, unstructured home -which is a totally fine way of living; everyone and every family life is different – when their true self would thrive better in a calm, quiet, predictable environment)
Even if you can’t pinpoint the exact source of your child’s anger, you can still be helpful in aiding them to overcome their anger.
Help Your Child Overcome His Anger By:
- Helping him understand what triggers his anger
- Teaching him about symptoms of being angry (such as feeling tense in his body, having a fast heartbeat, thinking about wanting to hit a sibling, etc.)
- Teaching your child to make healthy and appropriate choices as soon as possible when he becomes angry (such as walking away, taking deep breathes, etc.)
- Creating a tool box with your child of ways he can calm himself down
- Identifying his strengths and building on them
- Rearranging the environment and/or restructuring his daily schedule to better suit his true self (such as by placing less demands on him after school if your child would do better by having a break after school, although this does not mean to let him get out of responsibilities)
- Modeling healthy responses to anger
- Identifying what makes your child calm, happy, and feeling great and then put more of those things into his life (be sure to have him be involved in the process as much as possible as well as take on ownership and control of implementing these strategies)
- Work on problem-solving skills
- Practice stress-management skills together (such as doing exercise, getting enough sleep, learning progressive muscle relaxation, doing hobbies, etc.)
These are some of the ways you can help your child overcome anger. Anger is okay. Everyone can feel angry sometimes, but when anger is experienced excessively, it can lead to some not so good outcomes. Plus, it just doesn’t feel good to live with anger all the time for the person experiencing the anger or the people around that person.
Helping your child overcome anger can help him to have a much brighter future.
By HEATHER GILMORE, LLMSW via PsychCentral.com