How to help an angry child

Debbi Carberry Anger, Children, Parenting

Why do so many children get angry so often?

We all get angry from time to time, anger is a normal emotion and a part of being human.  It usually happens when we feel we have to protect ourselves or if we feel that we are under attack. So how to help an angry child.

It’s healthy to feel all of our feelings happy, sad, worried and MAD.  That said it’s not healthy for kids to feel overwhelmed by their feelings and it isn’t okay for them to overwhelm the adults that care for them.

Anger is often the most obvious emotion it’s the loudest and most noticeable but there is always another emotion that comes first like hurt, fear and frustration, offended, disrespected, forced, trapped or pressured.  Anger is a REACTION to that underlying feeling.

Acknowledging angry feelings can help to diminish them

Helping kids to identify, explore and express their feelings goes a long way toward helping them with angry outbursts.  Saying things out loud to your child can be very helpful like:

Don’t you hate it when you can’t have what you want? I know I feel like that sometimes.

Or “I know you’re feeling left out and like no one likes you right now.  That must feel awful!

This models caring behaviour to your child and also helps to give them the language they need to say what

Set clear boundaries about unacceptable behavior before it occurs

We all need boundaries they help us to know what is appropriate and what is not.  When we are feeling angry it is very important to set limits before the anger occurs to make sure that everyone is safe.

Establish boundaries like no;

  • hitting
  • throwing
  • breaking objects or
  • disrespect

We don’t hurt ourselves, others or possessions.

Try to involve your kids in setting these rules (when they are calm) by involving them in establishing the consequences for their behaviour, doing this will mean that they are more likely to respect the rules.

Never try to reason with a child who is already angry

When anger is in full flight it is best to minimise everything that happens but particularly talking.  The child who is enraged has lost control and when emotions get out of hand it really is a time to take a break from the dialog. Acknowledge that they are upset and reassure them that you will stay with them until they calm down. Talking about what has happened is important – but wait until after the child has settled down.

Ways to help your Child

Teach your child relaxation techniques like deep breathing, mindfulness and basic yoga (there are some great apps online that can help with this). 

Help them choose an activity that will diminish the anger:

  • yell into a pillow (if they tend to scream)
  • beat a cushion, pillow or boxing bag (if they tend to hit out)
  • stamp their feet in the floor outside until the anger subsides
  • tear a phone book

Seek professional help if you feel your child and family need additional support.

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Until next time ..