6 Useful Strategies for Managing Anger in Children
When young children get angry, their reactions are often disproportionate, because they don't yet have sufficient skills to control these emotions. We'll talk about managing anger in children today.
In the following article, we’ll give you some useful strategies for controlling and managing anger in children. Anger is an emotion that helps us defend ourselves in situations that we feel are abusive or aggressive. The problem arises when this anger gets out of control; it’s at this point that it can be harmful, both to us, and to the people around us.
This emotion is even more complicated when it occurs in children, as they still don’t know how to regulate the feeling, and it can get easily get out of control. With the strategies that you’ll find below, you’ll be able to see how managing anger is possible in children by promoting their emotional intelligence.
Human beings instinctively tend to react aggressively when they feel anger, but this way of responding is neither healthy nor adapted. This can lead to problems with the people around us, colleagues, friends, family, etc.
This uncontrolled feeling in children can end up affecting their emotional environment. Disproportionate reactions will alienate the people they love and they’ll feel increasingly alone. For this reason, it’s important that we teach our youngest children how to manage this emotion.
Development of empathy
Instilling this value in children is fundamental to the development of their emotional intelligence. It helps them to understand that other people or children also have feelings, and helps them to put themselves in their shoes.
To help develop empathy, we can put them in situations where they have to tell us how they think someone is feeling in that circumstance.
Examples include: “One of your classmates has been hit” or “A boy running down the street has hurt himself.” The question would be: “How do you think the child might feel in these situations? Put yourself in their shoes.”
Recognizing and expressing anger in other ways
When they’re experiencing anger, it’s very difficult to have a conversation with children; they won’t listen to us, especially if they’re shouting or hitting.
In these situations, you should wait until the child is calm to try and get them to see how they’ve reacted, and to explain why they did it. We can give them constructive alternatives to anger, promoting activities to help them calm down, such as drawing, painting, or writing down how they’re feeling.
Using physical activity to release tension
When a child does physical activity, then he or she releases their excess energy and comes home tired and relaxed. Physical activity causes them to release endorphins, which produce a state of well-being and relaxation in their body.
In addition, coaches in all sports have techniques to be able to teach children to behave in a sporting way, without getting frustrated or angry when there’s an accidental fall, or when they fail to score a goal or basket. And, as a result, children will use these techniques in their daily lives, both at home and at school.
Teaching children self-control techniques
It’s important for children to understand that emotions are a way of expressing how they’re feeling, and that they’re all valid. What isn’t correct is often the way we behave when we feel that emotion. It’s OK to feel angry when a classmate says something unkind, but it would be completely wrong to respond violently as a result of that emotion.
If a child is aggressive, hits, bites, spits, or insults people, then this is something we just can’t tolerate. This is especially so if that behavior happens quite regularly. We must apply a suitable punishment, let them see the consequences of their actions in some appropriate way.
One way to avoid this punishment is to teach them techniques they can use when they feel angry. In that way, they’ll be able to control those disproportionate reactions. One of these techniques would be the “behavior traffic light.” Here you have to make three cards—red, green and yellow—and each one tells them how they have to react.
Not responding to their anger
The way a child behaves, for better or for worse, doesn’t only depend on their character or personality. How they’re brought up plays a very important role in ensuring that children grow up to be well-adjusted people.
That’s why it’s very important to observe how people react at home. If, at home, the parents shout, physically hit, or scold excessively, then we’re teaching them that this is how they should behave. If we behave in this way, then we can’t expect children to be able to react well when feeling angry.
What should parents do then? When our children are very angry, then we shouldn’t listen to them. Sometimes, they’re trying to become the center of attention. So, if we get angry with them or scold them, then they’ll be getting our attention. They’ll realize this and have the same reaction in the future, because they know that they’ll get your attention in some way.
On the other hand, if a child sees that you don’t pay attention to them when they have this reaction, then they’ll end up getting tired. If they see they don’t get what they want, then they’re sure to stop behaving that way.
Teaching breathing techniques
Breathing or relaxation techniques can be very helpful, as it’s an activity that works against the tension that we experience with anger. So, when they feel angry, we can ask them to take a deep breath and imagine themselves in a beautiful place that they love.
These images, together with deep breathing, will help the child to get a grip on the situation and to think more clearly.
So, here we’ve shown you some useful strategies for managing and controlling anger in children. You’ve seen how they can help you when the child can’t control their aggressive attitudes when they get angry.
Children aren’t able to control their emotions, especially when they’re young, as they haven’t yet acquired that skill. For this reason, it’s important to foster emotional intelligence in them. We must guide them with love and patience, so that they can learn to recognize and express anger in a healthier way.