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Dealing with your child’s anger outbursts

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
17 September 2022   |   3:45 am
Anger is an emotion that can range from slightly irritated, to moderately angry, to full-blown rage. This can happen quickly. Everyone can get angry and children are not exempted.

PHOTO CREDIT: Africa Parent

Anger is an emotion that can range from slightly irritated, to moderately angry, to full-blown rage. This can happen quickly. Everyone can get angry and children are not exempted.

However, when a child gets angry it naturally makes adults feel uncomfortable, as his parent, you will try to appease him and give in to his demands so that the anger can go away. Alternatively, parents may choose not to spare the rod, to force stop the anger through intimidation or punishment. In fact, we get angry at their anger.

The truth is that your child will experience situations that trigger anger. You can’t stop the triggers, but you can give your child the tools to understand their anger and how to deal with it more appropriately and reasonably.

Understanding why your child may explode as a way of reacting can help out. Mostly, anger issues in children happen because they don’t know how to deal with their frustration or other uncomfortable feelings.

They haven’t yet learned skills for solving problems without getting upset. Sometimes anger issues in children are caused by another problem that needs treatment. This could be Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which is a learning disability or autism.

There are many strategies that can help children improve their behaviour. One of the most important things is to stay calm when they get upset, while this can be challenging, but it’s a great way to model good behaviour.

Teaching your child problem-solving and communication skills can help him choose different ways to express his feelings. Also, if a tantrum isn’t violent, ignoring it usually works best. If your child is getting physical, then the most important thing is to get them into a safe place.

Don’t try to control your child’s emotions, you can only ask that he control his behaviour. It’s okay for a child to be angry, as long as that anger is expressed appropriately. Also control your own emotions if you start to feel your emotions getting away from you.

Make sure your responses don’t escalate the situation. Just because you choose not to argue with your child doesn’t mean that you’re giving in. If your child needs space to cool down, give it to him. The time to discipline your child is not in the middle of an emotional or behavioural tornado. Address these things later, when things have settled down.

Help your child recognize when anger is building. Physical signs of anger, such as stomach clenching, tension, feeling flushed, or jaw clenching, are all things your child can recognise. If they begin to notice these things happening, they can dial down and hopefully begin to control their anger.

You can brainstorm with your child; many children experience or express true remorse after having an emotional meltdown. If your child is open to talking and willing to learn some anger management skills, you can help them work backwards to understand the incident.

Learning to recognise underlying emotions is a powerful tool your child can use throughout life. Many children may not be willing to go over the issue. If they resist, drop it, and see if you can make progress another time.

Remember that emotion is different from behaviour. The problem isn’t the anger; it’s the behaviour that follows. You can validate your child’s emotions while addressing the behaviour that is a concern. Also help your child identify more positive ways to express their emotions.

If your child’s behaviour is too much for you to handle, there are professionals who can help. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can teach kids coping skills and teach parents ways to help. If CBT doesn’t work, the child may need medication or a different treatment programme.

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