When Your Child Gets Angry: Here’s your Gameplan
Is your child having issues with anger management? Are you at a loss how to help your child manage his anger responsibly? This article by Dr Laura Markham, known as America’s parenting coach and founder of the website AhaParenting .com gives some answers to many parents’ dilemma on dealing with an angry child. Usually, a parent’s move is to send their angry child to his room to “calm down”.
However, the child might interpret that action as:
“-No one is listening to what’s upsetting you.
-No one is going to help you solve the problem you’re experiencing.
-Anger is bad.
-You’re being bad because you feel angry at us.
-Your anger scares us. You’re on your own when it comes to managing those big scary feelings in a responsible way– we don’t know how to help you.
-When you’re angry, the best thing to do is to stuff those feelings.”
Sending the wrong signals to a child may lead to anger management issues that they may carry into adulthood. It’s critical to teach a child as early as possible how to accept their anger. Let them know that what they are feeling is normal, but they have a choice how to react. Parents need to teach them the skills how to express their feelings without the need to lash out at others.
Here are Dr Laura’s tips on how parents can help their child learn to manage their anger responsibly:
1. Keep yourself from moving into "fight or flight"
As parents, remind yourself that you too need to regulate your own emotions, so your child feels safer and follow your actions. Take a few deep breaths and don’t panic.
2. Listen. Acknowledge why your child is upset.
Be available to sit down, talk calmly with your child and most importantly, listen.
3. Try to see it from his point of view.
Empathize and acknowledge his truth in the moment.
4. Don’t get hooked by rudeness and personal attacks.
Be aware that your child might resort to saying things that will upset you. Be careful not to react negatively.
5. Set whatever limits are necessary to keep everyone safe, while acknowledging the anger and staying compassionate.
6. If your child is already in a full meltdown, don’t talk except to empathize and reassure her that she’s safe.
7. Remind yourself that tantrums are nature’s way of helping immature brains let off steam.
8. Remember that anger is a defense against threat.
Help them to understand the reason behind their anger, sometimes we find hurt, fear and sadness.
9. Make it safe for your child to move past anger.
If your child feels safe expressing their anger and they know you are there to help them, the anger will simply melt away.
10. Stay as close as you can.
Loving your child and reminding them of the fact each time they’re angry will help diffuse the situation. Dr Laura suggests saying, "I won’t let you hurt me, so I’m moving back a bit, but I am right here. Whenever you’re ready for a hug, I’m right here."
11. Keep yourself safe.
As parents. it’s important to set boundaries for appropriate ways for your child to interact with you. You could tell your child, “I don’t allow people to treat me rudely or disrespectfully, and that includes my children.”
12. Don’t try to evaluate whether he’s over-reacting.
Sometimes when your child throws a tantrum and is hard to please, they usually just need a good cry.
13. Acknowledging her anger will help her calm down a bit.
Displaying compassion to your child will always help to dissolve the anger.
14. AFTER he’s calmed down, you can talk.
Avoid lecturing at this point and help them understand themselves. You can do this by telling a story and discussing what happened
15. What about teaching?
After the emotional closure, keep it simple. Give your child a chance to practice managing his emotions and learn to make better choices. The end goal is for your child to be emotionally intelligent to weather the storms of everyday life without moving into reactive anger. For them to verbalize their feelings and tolerate disappointments allowing their anger to simply pass. As parents, the game plan when these situations happen is to stay calm, be compassionate and set boundaries for both you and your child to communicate safely to strengthen your relationship.
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