When a child has trouble managing their emotions, they might display explosive behaviors and aggression. This can be a stressful experience for parents and the rest of the family, as it may seem like your child is losing control. When children display anger and aggression, it might be aimed at caregivers, resulting in objects being thrown and even hitting or biting. If this sounds like your child, you are probably wondering what can be done.
This article will explore different anger management strategies for children, as well as skills the whole family can learn to diminish those aggressive outbursts.
Why Is My Child Angry?
As a parent, you have probably asked yourself, "why is my child so angry?" numerous times after witnessing your child engage in meltdowns and display angry outbursts. When beginning to implement anger management strategies, it is first important to try and understand the big emotions your child is feeling. It is also critical to note that if they are engaging in explosive behaviors, this is a form of communication that your child is displaying.
Children who are overwhelmed and lashing out in aggression tend to have difficulty controlling and managing their emotions. They may lack the language skills, impulse control, and problem solving skills necessary to communicate their anger in a more mature way. They also might not understand the strong emotions and big feelings they are having, therefore the only way they know how to express their anger is through aggression.
What is considered aggressive behavior in children? While it looks different for every child and every situation, aggression typically involves hitting, biting, pushing, yelling, and screaming that is directed at others.
Aggression is a common behavior that is seen in many children as a child develops. However, children learn more effective ways to regulate their emotions and manage anger as they get older. Keep reading to learn more about anger management skills for kids and how to best support your child when they are having these intense feelings.
How to Teach Children Anger Management Skills
A parent's response to their child's anger and aggression is as important as the skills children learn. It is important that parents respond to aggressive behaviors in children in a consistent and appropriate manner. Parents can begin by displaying healthy coping skills, having rules and boundaries for aggressive behaviors, utilizing consequences, being a good role model, and recognizing underlying problems.
If problems continue to persist, even after implementing the following strategies, it may be helpful to seek professional help for your child, where they can learn positive communication skills from a licensed clinical psychologist.
Display Healthy Coping Skills
Anger is a natural emotion that children will experience from time to time, however if children are unaware of how to properly manage their anger, it can become a problem. Displaying and encouraging the following coping skills will allow your child to learn strategies for managing and expressing their anger in a healthier way.
- Take a break. If your child responds to a situation with what seems to be uncontrollable anger, it could be helpful to encourage your child to take a break. Sometimes stepping away from the situation by either taking deep breaths or going for a walk will help your child calm down.
- Talk About It. If your child tends to have temper tantrums or lacks the self control when they feel angry, encouraging your child to talk about what is making them angry and what emotions they are experiencing is a healthy way for children to learn how to express their feelings. For instance, encourage your child to use "I" statements, such as "I feel angry when you make me do my homework while I'm watching TV."
- Teach problem solving skills. When you encourage your child to think about various solutions for the situation at hand, it promotes independence and helps teach kids problem solving skills that they will take with them well into the future.
- Encourage deep breathing. Teach and encourage your child to engage in deep breathing or relaxation strategies when they begin to feel angry. For instance, you can tell your child to count to ten slowly or visualize a calm place. This brings your child's breathing down and allows your child to gain control of their emotions, especially when feeling overwhelmed. Deep breathing is a proven technique for not only managing anger, but also for other big feelings your child may be having.
- Other copings skills to try. There are other healthy ways to express anger, such as encouraging your child to partake in art or writing. In addition, encourage your child to engage in physical exercise, through sports, going for walks or hikes, playing outside, or playing at a park with other kids. When you allow your child to engage in physical activity or sports, you are also encouraging them to develop their social skills and learn new and effective coping skills for emotional development.
How Joon Can Help
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Joon can help teach your child effective anger management skills by including tasks such as deep breathing or other coping strategies into your child's daily routine. Joon allows your child to choose a virtual pet by which they will need to feed, wash, and grow by completing tasks assigned to them.
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Have Rules and Boundaries for Displaying Anger
Setting clear and precise rules are crucial for helping children effectively manage anger. When establishing rules or boundaries, it is important to be specific. For example, if your child tends to hit or throw a toy across the room when they are angry, saying"no hitting or throwing toys when you are angry" is a specific rule that your child will be able to understand and follow.
When implementing rules, it is also important to be consistent. If you are not consistent with rules or boundaries, your child may begin to get confused about what behaviors are acceptable. Read more tips on disciplining an explosive child.
Have clear and established consequences are effective strategies for teaching children that "actions have consequences" and for encouraging children to make before choices in the future. When setting consequences, make sure it is communicated clearly. For instance, your child should be aware of what will happen when they break a rule or engage in bad behavior.
It is also important to follow through with consequences and be consistent. For example, if your child is feeling angry and lacks the self control, they might hit or kick others in an attempt to get what they want. If they are aware that hitting or kicking others results in time out or another punishment, they will eventually learn that engaging in physical aggression will result in consequences. Therefore, this will reinforce more positive behaviors in the future.
Be a Good Role Model
If your child has anger issues or angry outbursts, it is important to set a positive example for them to follow. In younger children especially, they are extremely impressionable and soak up others behaviors like a sponge. As a parent, you should try and set a good example for your child, as you can help them develop healthy habits and behaviors that they will carry onto adulthood.
Being a positive role model can include treating others with respect, being honest, practicing self control, taking proper care of yourself, practicing good communication skills, and showing empathy for others.
Recognize Underlying Problems
As a parent, it is important to recognize underlying issues that may be contributing to aggressive behaviors. For instance, children may act out aggressively when they are unable to communicate their needs or wants appropriately.
In addition, children might display aggression if they have witnessed others engaging in aggressive behaviors, such as siblings, parents, and peers. Children might also engage in aggressive behaviors if they have a lack of supervision or consistent discipline from parents or caregivers.
Children who witness violence, either at home or in the media, may be more likely to behave aggressively. For instance, if they live in a home where violence and aggression are the "norm," then children are more likely to imitate these behaviors and angry feelings.
It is important for parents and caregivers to appropriately respond to aggressive behaviors, before things get out of control. Responding in a consistent and appropriate manner will teach children the skills to effectively manage their emotions and express anger in a more healthy way. For parents, continuing to set clear boundaries, providing positive reinforcement for nonaggressive behaviors, and seeking help from a mental health professional, or participating in support groups, if aggressive behaviors become more constant and severe. Anger management for kids teaches important skills and strategies to cope with big emotions, learn ways to self regulate, and avoid aggressive or angry behaviors.