Anger can be managed and there are calmer days ahead.
After a particularly tiring day at work, I came home to find my two kids, ages 10 and 7, shouting and scoffing about sharing the remote. A common sight in a household with children, but it was what I witnessed after the argument that crossed the line — Jennifer shoving her younger brother in a fit of rage and gearing up to hurl a glass bowl at him.
Had I not walked in the door just in time to intervene, I could have been greeted by a very unpleasant situation. I knew I had to tackle this problem right away, so I worked to implement changes in the way our family processes and shares our feelings.
As a parent, it can be extremely difficult to manage angry emotions in children, but I found that these tried-and-true hacks helped silence the outbursts and keep my kids calm.
Effective Strategies to Manage Anger in Kids
1. Educate Kids About Emotions
Anger can be a confusing emotion for children to process. With negative thoughts running through their minds that they do not quite know how to address, they can be slow to speak up about the turmoil they are feeling. Make a point to educate your kids about the different kinds of emotions and the effects that they have on both our minds and bodies. Teach them that it is okay to feel angry and that it is a natural expression of human emotion. This knowledge will help them to stay calm and to understand that the feeling of anger will pass.
2. Keep your cool.
Although managing anger can be frustrating at times, as the parent, it is imperative to maintain control of your own emotions. If your child sees you yelling back or resorting to violent actions, the message it sends is that throwing a fit is allowed, because the grown-ups are doing the same. Be careful not to lose your temper or challenge your children when they are feeling riled up. This will act as a trigger, causing the situation to grow quickly out of control. Instead of fuming about whose fault it was or kicking up a fuss, practice patience and maintaining a mellow mood. Practice incorporated calming activities into both you and your child’s daily routine, such as walking, reading, or spending quality time together.
3. Hold calm conversations.
Moms all around the world swear by this one. Yes, it is important to discuss anger triggers — at times when your kids are calmer and are more likely to contribute to the conversation instead of stomping off to their rooms. It can be helpful to recap their last outburst and attempt to get to root of the issue by holding an open-minded discussion. Put them at ease by approaching the topic with empathy and understanding. Keep the conversation positive by incorporating supporting sentences, such as, “Oh, is that why you were so mad the other day? Well, now that I know the reason, I feel you. I would have been raging mad too, if it were me!”
4. Use a tool to gauge frustration levels.
Create a fun craft, perhaps, a thermometer or a color wheel, to frequently register levels of anger. This gives your kids a healthy way to express their emotions, especially anger, which can be quite complex for young minds. Stick a big paper thermometer on your fridge labeled with numbers ranging from 0-10. Zero can describe feeling “as cool as an ice cube” and 10 feeling “as explosive as a volcano.” This simple tool can effectively gauge how angry your child is feeling on any given day. Follow-up with a conversation about the signs and behaviors that accompany each level to help your child become more aware of their shifting emotions. For example, they could be balling up their fists at level 7 or simply stomping at level 3. This allows a child to perceive their anger objectively and make an attempt to rechannel their anger before it escalates.
5. Redirect anger.
Teaching children to utilize skills, such as mindfulness and self-discipline, can help them manage their seemingly out-of-control feelings and redirect them into more positive outlets. From calming activities like deep breathing and mindfulness, to creative activities like coloring books or play dough, there are a wide variety of anger management techniques for every child’s temperament. If you notice your child’s temper beginning to flare, ask them to go for a quick walk to cool off. Sometimes, repeating calming phrases or counting backwards from 100 may also help them to let off some steam until they are ready to openly discuss how they are feeling.
6. Stand your ground against tantrums.
It can be tempting to give your child whatever they wish for if it will prevent a tantrum and stop them from creating a mess around the house, but this practice is best avoided. Children that realize they can get their way simply by displaying unreasonable behavior are likely to use this to their advantage time and time again. Make every effort to stand your ground and wait patiently for the anger to subside, while encouraging your child to channel their anger productively. Even though caving into tantrums can provide a quick-fix, it can cause repeated negative behavior for the long haul.
7. Create consequences for poor behavior.
Whenever your child has an angry outburst or throws a temper tantrum, ensure that they know there will be specific consequences for their behavior. Although feeling angry is perfectly natural and acceptable, acting impulsively upon it is not. By consistently holding them accountable for negative behavior, they will begin to channel their anger in a more positive direction. For example, if they break a vase during an angry episode, it might be fitting to make them complete a few chores around the house or to remove a privilege.
Calmer Moments Ahead
Parenting is not an easy climb, and becoming a super-parent is even more challenging. In my own household, these strategies have proven to be extremely helpful in keeping temper issues at bay. By teaching our children to combat anger and displeasure with a calm attitude, we are helping them learn to control their emotions in a healthy manner.
It’s time to select the style that works best for you and manage anger like a pro!