In life, there will probably be several things that might make your child feel angry and frustrated. And it’s natural for you to be concerned if they’re having difficulty controlling their anger. But fortunately, there are steps you can take to teach your child a healthy way to cope. It’s important to help your child understand that, although we can’t always help what we feel, we can still find an appropriate way to handle these emotions.
Set Ground Rules
First, you should think of some rules for appropriate behavior and then sit down with your child and explain these rules. Let them know what are inappropriate reactions to have when they are angry, such as hitting, breaking things, and name-calling. Once you establish rules, you should put them up on a poster in the same area of your house where you put other household rules, such as the chore chart. Rules are hardly considered fun, but deep down your child will appreciate having the structure and guidance.
Enforce Healthy Punishment
Many parents make the mistake of punishing their child for their emotions instead of their actions. Saying something like “You need to get a hold of yourself” doesn’t help a child understand how to control their anger. Instead, an angry child will feel misunderstood and ashamed of their feelings and might choose to bottle up their anger in an unhealthy way. It is important for your child to know that their emotions aren’t bad, but that there is a right and a wrong way to regulate these emotions. When your child lashes out, the best thing to do is to take them aside as soon as possible, explain why their behavior was wrong, and give them a time out for a few minutes to calm down and think about their actions.
Provide Coping Alternatives
While you want to make sure that your child learns the consequences for inappropriate behaviors, you will also need to teach them healthy ways to cope. Some parents will agree that having a pillow that their child can scream into and punch will help them release their anger, while other parents find this inappropriate. The best thing is to teach your child to separate themselves from the situation. Anger causes people to act on impulse. So if your child can pause and take a deep breath, it will help keep them from reacting in a way that they shouldn’t. When you can, take an opportunity to have a conversation with your child about their emotions. Have them explain what is making them angry and why, as well as what they should do about the situation.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (202) 561-1110 (Washington, D.C. office) or (301) 577-4333 (Lanham office). Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.