Knowing how to deal with child anger is probably the most difficult parenting task. The idea is to give your child the space to be angry and express themselves, yet maintain appropriate boundaries.
In order for a parent to achieve the goal of letting their child express their anger while maintaining their boundaries, parents will have to control their own anger and remain calm. For more info on this topic visit the post on parental anger.
Why should I learn how to deal with child anger more effectively?
Some children grow up with the unspoken rule in their household to never be angry. Parents enforce this rule by shutting their kids down every time they see their child about to get angry. Many parents do this out of fear. Parents think that if their child expresses anger, then they will lose control over their child, so they shut them down quickly. Shutting the child down can take many forms such as yelling at them or even intimidation at the first hint of anger from the child. Children that grow up without being able to express anger in their family are likely to deal with anger issues later in life.
Parents need to let their children practice expressing anger appropriately so that later in life they will be able to maintain control and use effective communication while being angry.
3 Goals of how to deal with child anger:
1. Model good emotional stability for children. (AKA: Stay Calm)
2. Let the child express their anger.
3. Maintain the rules of the household.
3 Steps of how to deal with child anger:
1. Stay calm and get space. Sometimes children need their space in order to be able to calm themselves down. Getting space also helps parents not engage in an argument since they are not in the same location as the child.
2. Refuse to argue: Many children have the habit of getting angry to make their parents angry. Once the parent is angry they are not as able to follow through on consequences. There is usually a big bang and then the whole thing blows over. Children love that! Bottom line: Don’t argue with them.
3. Consequence: Consequence rule breaking that took place, if any. This step always takes place once the child is calm. You must not let the child get the impression that they are getting punished for being angry. Children need to understand that the consequence was for the behavior that occurred while they were angry. Always remain calm and in control while delivering consequences. This lets children know that their parents are going to stand by what they are saying.
These steps are for children of all ages; however, the specific consequences may change to account for age differences. For example, taking the car keys away from a teenager may be a great consequence, but is not applicable for the younger child.(For more info on handling problems with teenagers click the link.)
Remember that we teach our children best through our own actions. That means when something makes us angry at our children, we need to be able to communicate our frustration to them effectively. Staying calm and letting our anger be known verbally will pay off in the long run.
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