The Causes of Anger in Children: 4 Reasons

April 24, 2019
There are many causes of anger in children and it falls on the parents to analyze them. Even though it's normal that young children get angry at things that may seem small and relatively unimportant to us, a permanently aggressive demeanor requires help from a psychologist.

The fact that small children have tantrums from time to time is completely normal. Realizing there are limits is a necessary part of their development, although it’s sometimes difficult for the child to accept. Nonetheless, there can be various causes of anger in children.

On occasion, what seems to be a challenge to parental authority is really something else. It’s important to figure out the reason for the anger to help our children grow in healthy ways.

Crying and anger and even bolder attitudes like hitting, biting, and spitting or saying rude things fall under the spectrum of behaviors that caregivers can expect when children have bouts of anger.

Although there may be a number of possible causes for their anger, it’s good to pay attention to other behavioral signs to detect situations where a child needs more attention.

Typical causes of anger in children

1. Difficulty in identifying and expressing their emotions

If as adults it’s difficult to express our feelings with the right words, it’s completely understandable that this also happens to children. The difference is that children expect adults to understand them.

Parents and caregivers do a lot to satisfy every basic need for children and they become accustomed. Thus, children believe that adults can also take care of their sadness or their boredom.

As a consequence, if those who care for the child are distracted, busy, or if they simply don’t understand what is bothering the child, it can produce anger.

The good news is that today there are many resources to help children express what they’re feeling. For example, there are various children’s stories available where the main characters confront situations that make them angry, happy, sad, etc.

The Causes of Anger in Children: 4 Reasons

2. Lack of attention as a cause for anger

Children need to be heard. That is to say, some adults seem to have the belief that childhood is an insignificant stage in a person’s life. As if being a child doesn’t bring with it difficulties, needs, and specific desires.

Children need to know they’re loved. The way they feel affection is receiving attention. Playing with their parents or caregivers is fundamental for children; feeling restrained and controlled while facing the fears, insecurities, and other blows of life are vital in the development of children.

Children frequently get angry if this need for attention isn’t met. If young ones don’t receive attention just by being present, they’ll look for other ways to obtain it.

3. Frustration as one of the causes of anger in children

Another cause of anger in children is the frustration they feel from an act that causes them anguish or deception. This is related to the formation of the ego and the developmental stages in humans.

From the age of two up until about the age of six or seven, children can be egocentric and want everything for themselves. They want to win in games, be the center of attention, be the first, etc.

Nonetheless, with a friendly and patient attitude, you have to teach them about the presence of others. Clearly, the needs of others are as equally important as their own.

This process of learning is harder in some children, especially in those who don’t receive the necessary attention or if they find it especially difficult to express their feelings.

Every cause of anger in children is related. The reasons for the anger deserve to be discussed as a family so the children learn to manage their own disappointments.

“Children have to know they’re loved and the way they feel affection is by receiving attention.”

4. The child is simply overtired

Especially in very young children, the lack of sleep is one of the biggest causes of anger. Children need a healthy routine that respects the hours of sleep needed at each stage of childhood. This is indispensable for a good quality of life.

With a lack of sleep, children are even more limited in their ability to face frustration and the lack of attention. Moreover, it’s also that much more difficult to express their feelings.

Additionally, it’s not only the body that has to recover energy with rest; children’s brains also need a determined number of hours of sleep to be able to function, learn, and develop fully.

The Causes of Anger in Children: 4 Reasons

Causes of anger in children that deserve more attention

As they grow, children begin to learn to manage their anger more effectively. In rare cases, the rage and anger a child feels can grow over time as well and this will require attention.

For instance, the following is a list of situations where further investigation, conversation, and perhaps some professional help would be in order:

  • Aggressive behavior with risks to their own physical wellbeing or that of others.
  • Difficulties integrating themselves in school and social settings.
  • Incapable of playing or having fun with their peers.
  • Tantrums that are blown out of proportion for their age.
  • Constantly challenging parents’ authority.

In these cases, what children are expressing is a symptom they’re suffering from something they cannot face. Certainly, this doesn’t mean they necessarily have a disorder or a need for medication.

Finally, it’s the responsibility of the parents to show understanding and listen to their children and help them.