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Sunday, 13 October 2013

5 tips for managing your angry child

I don't think any parent likes to see their child angry, it's upsetting and often you reach a point where you just don't know how to deal with the anger.
Don't send your child away to 'calm down' as this only goes to reinforce the feelings of anger which can lower their self-esteem.  It's scary for a child to manage such extreme emotions on their own with little understanding of why they are feeling that way.

Start by teaching your child that it is OK to be angry, explain what the feeling is about and possible reasons for their anger.  By taking this approach you'll be teaching your child to manage and understand their anger as they grow older and gain a better understanding of their emotional responses.

So what can you do to support your child through their anger?

1.  Keep calm.  By controlling your own fight or flight response during a highly emotional situation, you will be acting as a role model for ideal behaviour.  Your child learns from your behaviour.  Remember the old saying, do as I say, not as I do?  It rarely works, your behaviour and body language are far more powerful than your words in this type of situation.

2.  Let it be.  Remember that tantrums and emotional outbursts are a natural part of your child's development.  They are experimenting with their own personality, emotions and communication skills.  It's your response to their outbursts that can mean the difference between short-lived and ongoing issues.

3.  Safety first.  Keep your child and other children safe from any possible harm during angry episodes.  Let your child know that it is OK to be angry but lashing out, hitting, biting, pinching, scratching etc... are not acceptable forms of behaviour and you need to be firm in telling your child your feelings on violet outbursts.  Remember be firm but keep calm.  You can apply limitations to actions but not to feelings. 

4.  Don't analyse.  Your child is more than likely over-reacting by adult standards.  The angry reaction can often be as a result of a build up of emotions over time.  Your child reaches a point, perhaps when he or she is a little over-tired or no longer able to process a situation rationally.  Allow them to have their meltdown, but once it's over talk it through with your child without being critical. 

5.  Be present.  By staying nearby while your child works through their anger, you will be supporting their emotional needs rather than abandoning them to their tears.  Don't participate in their angry outbursts but let them know that you're there no matter how they are feeling.  They key is empathy not judgement or punishment.  Your child will learn in time to mirror your behaviour as there is no reward in being angry.

Happy parenting!