Anger Management for Kids - Helping Kids Control Their Anger
- Written by Mellisa Dormoy
Anger - it's a part of life and everyone experiences it. Anger isn't a bad emotion. We should not try to suppress it or bury it, that only makes it stronger and more fierce. However, we need to understand, practice and teach our children valuable anger management skills so they can learn to deal with anger early on. We have seen the devastating effects of suppressed anger unleashed in our schools, homes and institutions. Let's learn to effectively deal with it now so there are not unsuspecting moments in your family's life.
Acknowledge your child's anger and her right to be angry. When you are angry, you do not want to hear that you have no right to be angry, or "stop acting that way." You want to be heard. You want to express your anger because deep inside, under that anger is a feeling of injustice of some type. Often anger has pain or fear at it's very core. The foundation of anger comes from a feeling of having love being withheld in some way. Its guises may vary. At first glance you may think have a plausible explanation for anger - but underneath the anger is always a hidden fear or pain.
Help your child dig into that fear or pain by talking it out. Get to the root of the issue. Don't yell back if your child is yelling, but sit quietly and listen bringing calm and understanding to the situation. Certainly don't allow your child to abuse you with assaults, but understand that sometimes a few lines of out-burst may be what is needed so the cork doesn't pop. Then, take in a deep breath and talk it out.
Let your child know that anger is OK. Don't try to stop it, but help your child learn to talk through things and let her know that you will always listen, as any caring person would do. Most of the time, just talking it out diffuses the anger, even if you have to come back to the topic many times. Keep working at it until it is resolved, always remaining loving, kind and respectful.
Model appropriate anger management for your child. We all get angry sometimes. When you feel yourself getting angry, take in a deep breath and exhale deeply, center your being and then go on to explain why you are upset. This will actually become more natural the more you practice it. Don't think you're a bad parent or a bad example if you get angry. Children need appropriate role models for emotional management and if you cover up anger or try to hide it, your child will feel it anyway, so your efforts are futile. Be honest, be open and learn to grow from every experience and every emotion.
Remember kindness and respect are the keys to healthy relationships. If relationships are not based on kindness and respect then anger is going to be present. Help your child understand this truth about all relationships. Even if your child doesn't particularly like someone, it is still important to be respectful and to be kind as much as possible. Where basic kindness and respect are lacking, problems result.
You may not always agree with your child and you may not even approve of certain choices. However, as long as kindness and respect are present and you accept your child for who he or she is, then anger issues can and will be diffused. Remember that you don't necessarily have to approve of who your child is as a person. It is vital however, that you accept who your child is. Acceptance is fundamental, even when you are not in agreement. Your child is her own person, and some parents spend many years and many tears understanding that acceptance is the foundation. Disagreement is okay, rejection is not.
Share with your child how you manage your own anger. You might use prayer, meditation, deep breathing, physical exercise and talking it out to help release anger. Prayer and meditation are more medium to long term solutions while deep breathing, exercising and talking it out are quick and short term solutions to diffuse the immediate anger. My ten year old son finds that deep breathing is especially beneficial before talking out the situation and explaining his view of things. He also uses prayer to center himself and feels that he is more balanced and can deal with his fluctuating emotions easier by doing so. Some time ago, he also created a poster for his room that reads "If I get too angry, I walk away from the situation". That has helped remind him to take a breather when needed and cool off.
Sometimes children do not seem to know why they are particularly angry. They may feel an accumulation of anger due to seemingly insignificant issues. By being a loving, supporting parent and seeing past anger behaviors, your child will be able to being to deal with these small issues one at a time. Also, if you spend time with your child simply asking her to "feel into the anger" and talking about it calmly; often sadness will eventually come up and you can explore that together. Getting through the layers of anger can often feel like peeling an onion, but anger is like that sometimes. Just keep peeling. Stick with her through the tears, the yelling, the upset, and let her know that no matter what, you accept and love her, and you will get through this together.
Ultimately you are a model for your child. If you express your anger in undesirable ways, your child will too. Use the anger management tools yourself as you teach them. You want to teach your child to deal with even the small issues so that anger does not become a habit or that it becomes deep seated as a teenager. Of course, as a loving parent, you can deal with all types of anger by coming back to these principles, but early intervention is best. Stay calm and stay focused on your task as guide and teacher rather than getting personally angered by any situation. Become the observer and helper.
In the end, true love is about the personal commitment to one another through the easy parts and the tough ones. Anger is an emotion that does not have to be the sore spot of a family. Breathe deeply and use love, respect and kindness to heal anger and build a healthy loving family relationship.
Mellisa Dormoy is the founder of ShambalaKids Relaxation CD's for kids and teens. Mellisa specializes in guided imagery and children and teen's self-esteem.
You can find more information about Mellisa and her work, including more articles and resources at http://www.ShambalaKids.com