What is anger and why does it need to be managed?
“Often, we fail to understand that anger is a possible emotion with a toddler. I never even imagined that a child is capable of that feeling till I refused to give my son a toy and the TV remote came hurling at me.”
- Anger is a normal emotion. …
- Anger management can help a child learn better ways to cope with angry feelings.
- A psychologist can help develop ways to change your child’s thinking and responses.
- Encourage your child to express his anger through talking or help him convert his anger to other emotions.
Anger is a normal human emotion. Uncontrolled anger, however, can lead to aggression. This can cause physiological problems and lead to harmful behavior.
Aggression first begins in the toddler years. This is when children are naturally more aggressive than any other age group. A toddler’s inability to talk may be one reason why aggression starts at this age.
Toddlers and young children need to learn how to control their emotions. Otherwise, frequent aggression over time can cause problems in school, at home and with their friends and family. One study found that 1 in 7 children who had aggression early in life that increased as they aged was at a higher risk of:
It is important not to brush off tantrums and similar behavioral problems. Instead, it is important for all parents to manage their child’s anger before they can cause any serious damage to property or, even worse – people.
Anger is temporary and is our emotional response to frustration. On the other hand, aggression is the deliberate damage caused to any person or object. Both are harmful but need to be dealt with differently.Since we are dealing with kids, we have to be very rational. Simply telling a child that a certain kind of behavior is unacceptable isn’t good enough. Make sure that you tell your child that their feelings are completely acceptable. However, they would feel better if they tried alternate ways of dealing with a certain emotion. Every suggestion that you give should make the child feel like you are trying to reach out to them instead of making them feel like they are being punished. Make it a point to encourage positive behavior. If you see your child exhibiting any kind of behavior that you find acceptable, even without you telling him or her, shower them with praises first and then relate that to a behavior that was unacceptable. For example, “You are such a good boy for putting your toys away. I wish you would do this more often unlike the last time when you got upset and threw them all over the living room.”
The goal of anger management is to reduce negative feelings. This can help reduce the negative physiological changes caused by anger. Like other emotions, anger can cause physiological changes such as a rise in blood pressure, and an increase in your energy hormones like adrenaline.
There are three main ways your child can deal with angry feelings:
Expressing anger, understanding emotions
The more a child expresses anger, the less likely he will have an angry outburst. Expressing anger requires him to communicate. He needs to be able to start sentences with phrases like, “I’m mad because…” or “I’m feeling angry because…”. Children need to express what their needs are. They need to express how their needs can be met without hurting others. Parents can help their children understand their emotions by asking them how they are feeling when they are calm and happy. Then can ask how their children feel when they are mad. It may also help to point out other people’s emotions or feelings, such as “that man on TV looks angry.”
Suppressing anger: accept and redirect
Anger can be suppressed and converted into another emotion. This can occur if your child focuses on something else that is positive. This is a good technique for older children or teenagers.
The technique here is to help your child recognize his anger, and then convert the anger into something positive and constructive. You could ask your young child to draw pictures how he is feeling. An older child may write a note. He may confront whatever is causing the anger by offering an alternative solution to the problem.
There is a danger to this technique. If your child does not convert the anger, the unexpressed anger can harm his health. Unexpressed anger may cause high blood pressure or depression.
You should not be so afraid of suppressing your child’s anger that you begin to allow unacceptable behaviors. Children who are ‘rewarded’ for temper tantrums will continue to have them. Unacceptable outbursts should calmly be met with natural and logical consequences. For example, if they break a toy in a fit of rage, that toy should not be replaced. If they break a family members’ object, they should pay for it through their allowance or by doing additional chores.
Calming down, taking time out
Every child needs to learn how to calm their emotions. This helps them to control their outward behavior. Helpful exercises include:
taking deep breaths
spending time alone
doing yoga, martial arts, or other forms of exercise
Anger and aggression start out as an attention seeking behavior. The moment you pay the slightest heed to this behavior, it will increase. Instead, what has worked wonderfully for me is ignoring this behavior entirely. Even if it is minor and tolerable like being grumpy, make sure you ignore it. A minor misbehavior that you encourage, the worse it gets.
- Let the child drain his or her energy out completely. Let the child play, get a lot of exercises and also have enough place for movement. That will make them less likely to experience emotions like frustration that lead to anger.
- Show them affection when needed. Sometimes when the child gets very uncontrollable, you can give them a hug or better still pick them up gently and get them out of the scene. Then explain to the child that what they are doing is harmful. A calm child is most likely to listen to you than a child who is even more agitated because of a punishment.
- Appeal to your child. Tell them that you know something bothers them but you want them to do something else instead for the sake of another person. “I know you are upset that I won’t play the TV but I have a headache and I cannot handle the noise.” When they agree, thank them.
All you really need for toddlers is some love and rationality to get them to curb aggressive behavior. It is not easy and does not happen overnight. However, persistence and patience pay every time.