While no person or no family can be anger-proof or immune to anger, there are multiple ways you can help your angry child get a handle on their temper.
Help Your Child Have Inner Peace
Research has shown that connected children and their parents get angry with each other less. Attached parents know they do not have to be harsh to be in control. Find ways to connect with your child and truly get to know him/her through activities that will create a bigger bond between the two of you.
Don’t Let Your Child Stuff Anger
Encourage your child to recognize when he/she is getting worked up; this can be done even with your toddler. Be an attentive listener, show empathy, acknowledge and help him label his/her feelings, for example: “Jean, It looks like you are becoming frustrated with your Legos…is this too difficult? (give time for the child to respond) … Do you need help or is there something else we can move on to for a little bit?; if the child gets more agitated: “I see you are angry, I understand…let’s take a break, and then we will think of a solution together”. This type of dialogue encourages your child to engage in communication instead of holding the anger inside or in throwing a tantrum out of frustration. Many times, children do want to express their feelings, but they do not know how or what words to use and that is where we come in.
The Anger Medicine…Laughter!
We all know that laughter is therapeutic and it makes us feel great! Be silly with your child and when mistakes happen…laugh together! This helps your child to not feel ashamed, which will then turn into anger. Let your child know that it is okay to laugh at ourselves and that everyone makes mistakes…even all adults do, so…laugh out loud!
Model Appropriate Expression of Anger
The way you handle and express your anger, that way your child will express it too. Watch how you deal with stress and anger at home. If something happens where your child makes you angry, for example, your child dropped the entire gallon of juice on the floor, instead of reacting in a way that will startle or that will insult or shame your child, take a deep breath and with a calmed voice, teach your child ways on how the problem can be solved. Jump into action with your child on how the mess can be cleaned up and if an age-appropriate skill, teach your child new ways he/she can hold the gallon better next time or let him/her know to ask for help if needed. Every overreaction from you will cause a reaction from your child that may lead to an outburst of anger or for him/her to completely shut down.
Teach and Practice Calming Techniques with Your Child
Teach your child that adults also do calming activities and that it is okay to take a break from the situation, take a deep breath, and find a calming activity…whatever it is. Some children punch pillows to get all negative energy out, others may engage in an outdoor activity briefly or may use a meditation app to help them calm down and re-center. You can do one with your child to model the behavior or you may provide him/her with a few options and see which ones help the most. Each child is different. Around the house, make sure you make comments such as: “Mommy needs a break or mom needs to go calm down for a few minutes” so that your children learn that it is completely normal and also a good strategy to remove ourselves from the negative situation and to clear our minds.
Resources to help your child with anger and to acquire new coping skills:
-How to Take the Grrrr Out of Anger by Elizabeth Verdick & Marjorie Lisovskis
-For your teen: The Anger Workbook for Teens”: Activities to Help You Deal with Anger and Frustration. Available on Amazon on Kindle and Paperback