Helping children control their angry feelings

Anger is a normal and healthy response. People may experience anger in response to a threat. Anger causes both physiological and biological changes in the body. Anger is a strong motivator. However, most decisions made when anger is involved are knee-jerk reactions and some don’t turn out as well as planned.

If you have a child that can manipulate your decisions with the use of anger it is time to stop and take a look at the dynamics of the parent/child relationship.

Often times when children are young and throwing a temper tantrum, a parent will do almost anything to make it stop. This is especially true if they choose this behavior in a very public place. Children learn quickly that they can get almost anything they want with this method. It may seem a little amusing in a toddler, but once the behavior is learned it is difficult to stop.

Children learn from example. It is wise to examine your parenting style and see if the child’s perception of your own displays of anger is that if you get angry, things get done. Some simple adjustments in verbiage and expectations can help both the parent and child to use positive motivators instead of anger.

An example to illustrate: As a parent you may have reached the end of your rope with your child’s inability to be cooperative. You have asked several times that the toys be put in the toy box and it is not getting done. In the past, you may have become angry and yelled, expressing how upsetting it is that the child does not do what is asked.

A new method to try: Take a deep breath and quietly gather up the toys. Put them away on a closet shelf or in some other safe place.  If the child asks what you are doing calmly reply, “It doesn’t look like you know how to take care of your toys. I will have to do it for you and maybe when you learn to take care of them they can come back to you.”  If the child responds in anger, finish gathering the toys and then offer comfort. ‘I’m sorry you choose not to take care of your toys. I know it makes you sad and maybe next time you are asked to clean up the playroom, you will make a different choice.”

Once in a very busy grocery store stood a mother with a sign. “I know my child is throwing a fit. Please try and ignore her. This is a learning experience.” Some people seemed shocked by the sign and others had a smile and nod for the mother. The bottom line is that the mother chose not to allow her daughter’s outburst to control her, despite the potential public embarrassment.

Avoiding modeling anger and using positive discipline techniques with children is one of the best ways to mitigate parenting issues and ensure family dynamics run smoothly.