Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Teaching children to handle anger

"I'll shoot your head off with a rifle." he yelled. "I'm going to throw you out the window!" she screamed. "Mom, she's pulling my hair!" "Ow, he kicked me!"

Sound familiar?

How do you react?

Beyond punishment for bad behavior, helping children learn to handle anger is an important parental role. We must help them understand that anger is a normal emotion we all experience. Then we must help them learn how to handle their anger appropriately. Children need to be able to trust us with their anger. To know that we validate their feelings and will do more than punish them.

Remember that children learn from example. So when you hear your child making threats - where did they learn the behavior? From you? A friend? A television show? As young children, they could just be experimenting, but as they get older, they are usually modeling behavior they have observed others use.

In other words, we must be an example of appropriate anger management.

Do you suppress anger until it explodes? Do you make threats you don't mean? Do you use swear words? Do you yell and scream? Hit, kick or scratch? Throw away things? We all usually have some sort of vice that comes out when we are very angry. What is really "fun" though is to see that same undesirable behavior displayed by your children. And realize they learned it from you.

So the biggest thing you can do to help you children learn to handle anger is work to handle anger appropriately yourself.

After that, here are some ideas you can practice with your kids.

  • Teach them to take deep calming breaths and count to ten before reacting.
  • Help them find the correct words to express their feelings and identify with them. "I know you are feeling frustrated. It is upsetting when you can't..."  " I remember once when I was so angry because..."
  • Teach them to voluntarily taking a "time out" by retreating to a safe space or taking a walk to calm down before discussing problem situations.
  • Redirect their angry energy into positive activities - jumping on a trampoline, painting a picture, playing a musical instrument or something else your child enjoys.
  • Role play anger situations in family meetings and discuss inappropriate versus appropriate responses.
  • After the situation is resolved and the anger dissipated, teach them how to forgive and forget.
How have you successfully improved your own anger management? How have you taught anger management to your children? Do you have more suggestions?

By Malina. You can learn more Malina and her family at her personal blog.



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