Have you noticed that your child has been struggling to control their temper or getting more aggressive than usual? It may be time to look at some anger control methods for them.
Everyone experiences anger from time to time regardless of age however children may sadly feel this emotion even more often than adults do, there are multiple reasons for this including:
Children Often Feel A Lack Of Control Over Their Lives
Young people often do not get the final say over big things in their lives, this can make them feel anger as they have no control over the situations around them and therefore, they feel helpless.
One way to begin to combat this is by including your child in big decisions such as schooling, holidays and living arrangements.
They Can Struggle To Communicate And Express Their Wants And Needs Which Can Lead To Frustration
This is especially common in younger children as they do not yet have the skills set to communicate effectively.
Toddlers often become frustrated, for instance, they may become upset because they are tired, however they may struggle to recognise that this is the root cause of the emotion and furthermore they may struggle to express that this is the issue.
They Experience Rapid Hormonal Changes
On average girls hit puberty at age 11 and boys at age 12 however, it is not uncommon for it to present itself from ages 8 and 9 (the earlier for girls and the later for boys).
Puberty can last for anywhere up to 5 years and causes constant hormonal changes and fluctuations. These changes can manifest themselves in angry outbursts and make it more difficult for young people to control their emotions.
What Can I Do About It?
Understanding that you can help with your child’s anger is the first step and wanting to provide this help is the second, so you are already further along than you think.
The anger can stem from feeling unheard so sitting down and showing that you want to listen to why your child is feeling the way that they are can sometimes be enough to combat the anger.
However, in the long run it is important that children learn anger control methods, this is for multiple reasons including:
- It can help them to self-regulate
- You may not always be there to talk to
- It promotes independence
- It can help them at school
- It can help them in impulse moments.
So, What Are These Anger Control Methods?
Depending on your child’s age and the situation you could count to any number but usually 10, 30, 60 or 100. These numbers are less likely to create further frustration as they are round and frequently used numbers.
Counting is a great grounding technique and a good distraction as the child can start to focus on the numbers rather than the thing that is making them angry.
There are multiple ways that you can do counting as an anger control method. These could include, allowing the child to count alone and in his/her head, allowing them to count alone out loud, counting together and counting certain objects.
Teaching your child to walk away from the situation or thing that is causing frustration can be a great tool because it helps to get rid of the need to respond. Walking away gives them the time to calm down instead of reacting on impulses and making rash decisions.
The child can either walk away from the situation completely or walk away simply to get a breather and come back once they have had time to calm down.
Breathing Slowly And Deeply
Slowing breathing can lessen the more physical symptoms of anger and begin to break the cycle.
Similarly, focusing on breathing can serve as a good distraction and allows the child to focus on themselves and feel a sense of control as they can control their own breathing even when they feel as though they are losing control of the outside world.
Clenching And Unclenching Fists
This can help to relieve tension both physically and emotionally. It can also serve as a great distraction technique.
It is important to make sure that this is not done in a threatening manner though as that could cause further reactions from other parties and continue the cycle of aggression and anger.
Go To A Calm Down Place
Having a special calm down place can be a really good idea as the child can choose to take themselves away from the situation and into a place that they associate with calmness.
It is important to make sure that the calm down place is fit for purpose, perhaps create a special corner and allow your child to be a part of this so that they once again feel in control.
The calm down corner should not have any triggering things and should be as relaxing an atmosphere as possible.
The Three C’s
It is a good idea to teach children the three C’s these are: caution, choice and consequence.
Firstly, caution means to act in a well thought out manner, children should learn the importance of acting with caution rather than acting on impulse, this means thinking about the actions that they plan to take.
Choice is about being aware that how we respond is always a choice and that responding with anger is a decision and not a reflex action and therefore it is something that they can control.
Children should also be aware of the consequences that their actions and responses can bring about and the negative impacts that these can have on their own lives.
Learning to personify their anger can help children to separate themselves from it and therefore they can stop viewing themselves as an angry person which can stop anger becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy and allow for emotional progress.
This could be done by drawing a character for the anger and giving it a name. When you see your child starting to get angry you could say something like “Is that Marty coming back?” This also stops them feeling as though you are blaming them.
Overall, it is important that anger control methods are taught to children from a young age. Anger is a natural response to certain situations and children should not be ashamed for feeling this emotion but rather taught how to deal with it correctly.
There are many positive ways of dealing with aggression including those that involve stepping away from the situation, self-regulating, breathing exercises and thinking situations through in alternative ways.
Above all it is important that your child feels listened to and respected, so it is important to show that you are interested in what your child has to say and how they feel and that you understand.
The ways in which you teach your child to deal with aggression will depend upon the age of the child for instance a toddler may find personifying the anger into a scary monster a helpful way of expressing and controlling their anger whereas a teenager may find reflecting upon the 3 C’s and thinking through consequences a helpful way of dealing with their feelings.
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