Sunday, February 18, 2018


Angry Kids

Addressing children’s anger can be exhausting, confusing, and distressing for adults. Naturally, the major obstacle in dealing with anger in children is the uncomfortable feelings that become stirred up in us. In most instances we as parents have very limited reference points in this regard. Many of us were never taught how to cope with anger as a fact of life during our childhood. Moreover, most of us were led to believe that feeling angry was wrong leaving us feeling guilty for even feeling angry.

A youngster may be experiencing a loss, a divorce or a move. A child may be trying to let the world know that his/her life is not what it ought to be. Regardless of the reason, it looks the same. But how can we deal with this angry attitude without being a psychologist?

Addressing anger in children requires us to get rid of the notion that anger is bad. The goal is not to avoid or repress anger, but to own those feelings so that they can be directed into more productive behaviors.

Parents must allow children to feel all their feelings. Adult skills can then be directed toward showing children acceptable ways of expressing their feelings. Strong feelings cannot be denied, and angry outbursts should not always be viewed as a sign of serious problems; they should be recognized and treated with respect.

Responding appropriately to aggressive behaviors requires parents to gain some knowledge over what could have triggered an outburst. Anger may be a defense to avoid a painful feelings; it may be connected with feelings of failure, powerlessness, low self-esteem or feelings of isolation.

Defiance may also be associated with feelings of dependency, and anger may be associated with sadness and depression. In childhood, anger and sadness are very close to one another, and it is important to remember that much of what an adult experiences as sadness is expressed by a child as anger.

Several points should be highlighted:

  • Learn to differentiate between anger and aggression. Anger is a temporary emotional state caused by frustration; aggression is often an attempt to hurt a person or to destroy property.
  • Anger and aggression are not diseases to be avoided. In other words, in looking at aggressive behavior in children, we must be careful to distinguish between behavior that indicates emotional concerns and behavior that is age-appropriate.
  • In dealing with angry children, our actions and reactions should be motivated by the need to protect and to reach, not by a desire to punish. Parents should show a child that they accept his or her feelings, while teaching alternative ways to express the feelings. Contrary to popular opinion, punishment is not the most effective way to communicate to children what we expect of them.

Responding to the Angry Child

Some of the following suggestions for dealing with an angry child have been taken from the article Angry Kids by Jim Fay at www.loveandlogic.com

A Parent’s Job is to Understand, Not to Fix Things

Listening for understanding is impossible when a child is "drunk" on anger. Resist the urge to reason with an angry child. Instead say, "It sounds like you’re really mad. I want to listen and understand. I will listen when you're voice is as calm as mine. Come back then." If you can't make the child leave, you leave. Be prepared to repeat your calm statement if the child is determined to yell out the anger without leaving." Don’t worry about it now. We’ll talk when you’re calm." You may need to say this several times. Be prepared to play the "broken record" with, what did I say? Use these phrases instead of reasoning. Reasoning will only fuel the anger..

Thanks for Sharing That

Once the child is able to discuss the anger, listen without reasoning. Try to avoid telling the child why he/she should not be angry. Avoid telling them that things will be okay and how to make it better. Your job is to prove that you understand — "It sounds like you get mad when I tell you it's time to do your chores. Thanks for sharing that with me. I’ll give it some thought. If you think of a better way for me to remind you, let me know."

Parents Can Make It Worse

Parents who do not treat their children with respect send a message that says, "You’re not worthy." These parents often communicate with a lot of yelling. This encourages the child to yell and scream back while the parents retaliate by getting madder. It's a vicious cycle that breeds chronic anger in the child. In place of anger, parents should work on listening to their children in a non-threatening, honest and open manner. Most children will talk openly only after they truly believe their parents are interested in what they have to say and recognize their feelings.

When Anger Continues

If, despite your best attempts to understand your child's anger, there is no change in behavior after three months, parents should seek professional counseling for their child. In some instances, chronic anger is best helped by a professional. Resist the urge to reason with an angry child. Use empathy and understanding instead: "It sounds like you're really mad. I want to listen and understand. And I will listen when your voice is as calm as mine. Come back then."

Brent has worked extensively with parents and teachers for 13 years regarding anger and the anger related issues of children from all age brackets.


www.kidsource.com www.disciplinehelp.com

Recommended Reading:

Before Its Too Late: Why Some Kids Get Into Trouble and What Parents Can Do About It
Author: Stanton E. Samenow

Yes Your Teen Is Crazy: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind
Author: Dr. Michael J. Bradley

Parenting With Love and Logic
Authors: Jim Fay and Charles Fay, Ph.D.

Anger Quiz:



Bridging Harts Institute & Psychotherapy
203 S. Alma St. Suite #300
Allen, TX 75013
T: (972) 562 5002
Email: info@bridgingharts.com


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