Dealing with an angry child is exhausting and may often leave you feeling helpless and even hopeless. As parents we often react, which invariably exacerbates the anger, not helping the child and later leaves us feeling guilty and inadequate.
In these types of situations its helpful to understand that behaviour whether good or bad is a form of communication.
A few years ago, we had a little boy in our care. He came from a broken home which resulted in a combination of abuse and neglect. When he came to our centre, his only form of behaviour was anger and aggression. This was not focused on one person or a particular thing. He would lash out at anyone or anything. In our attempts to help him, we did an assessment on his situation. And we had discovered that this little boy grew up in a home of no love. All he ever experienced was difficult situations that left him frustrated and angry. Further assessments helped us understand that he had trouble in trusting people and was unable to develop a positive relationship with peers and adults. He found it incredibly difficult to express his feelings and was often angry and withdrawn. He would express his anger by hitting other children, swearing at his peers and adults and breaking property. By understanding his situation, we were able to adequately help him with his anger. I am pleased to say that after much intervention he is now a much calmer, friendlier and productive little boy.
This is one of many similar cases we attend to at our centre. With years of experience, I must say that we have had to develop a range of responses, instead of reactions that offer behaviour support rather than management. I hope that you will find this useful in responding to your own child’s anger issues and offering him/her the help that’s needed.
How we can be agents of change for a child struggling to control his/her behaviour:
- Stop to consider that anger is an emotion that is triggered by a wide range of causes.
- Typically, a primary emotion, like fear or sadness, can be found underneath anger.
- Fear can include feelings of anxiety, worry and sadness.
- These feelings come from the experiences of loss, disappointment or discouragement.
- Remember that anger can be a good thing as it allows for the expression of negative feelings.
- This in turn can be used to motivate the child to find solutions to problems.
- It is important that you stay calm, you want the child to feel that you are in control of yourself.
- You may need to use self-talk while you are working through the angry moment with your child.
- Remember to breathe. Take deep breaths. This will help you stay in control of your own emotions.
- You want to model calmness. The best way to teach your child how to deal with anger constructively is by showing them through your example!
- Develop a feeling vocabulary, this will help your child give words to their emotions.
- Invite your child to tell you about the why and how of their anger and make sure to listen and respond.
- If you are struggling to contain yourself take a break from the situation and draw on available support.
- Most importantly let your child know that you love them and whilst you will not accept unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour, that because you love them, you will always be available to teach them find a way to safely express their feelings.
NB: Content of this article is from our experience here at DCYCC, which has also been confirmed from various sources off the web.