You may be blessed with a sunny child, who has never had a tantrum and is all smiles, all the time – or, you may have one of the more normal ones! How to deal with an angry child is an essential part of parenting, for most people.
Read on for a few tips on how to deal with your bundle of rage while keeping your own cool.
How To Deal With An Angry Child?
Anger affects us all, but as adults we are generally able to name our feelings and have developed coping strategies.
This is not necessarily true for a child! Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to help your child through their outbursts and big feelings:
- Identify the feeling. A child may not know what they are feeling, so to have someone suggest “It looks like you’re feeling xyz” can really help them.
- Allow the feelings. As hard as it may be, try not to tell your child to just stop it or do something else – although it may be a small thing to you, it is a mountain in your child’s head.
- Teach them coping strategies. These will be different for each child, and you may have to take time figuring it out. Do they need a cuddle? Some time alone? A ball to throw or a pillow to punch?
- Develop a calming down plan. In a moment when your child is not angry or frustrated, ask them what calms them and makes them feel happy. Discuss taking the time to do these activities when they feel themselves getting hot under the collar.
- Try mindfulness. Teaching your child to take deep breaths or count to ten when they feel the rage boiling may well help in the future.
- Spend lots of time outdoors. Taking your kids away from screens and toys will help them enormously – and not just for their anger issues!
- Give them one to one time. Children, like most adults, crave connection, and giving them your undivided time and attention is likely to help them regulate their feelings.
- Don’t give in to tantrums. Some children have discovered that the way to get what they want is to throw a massive wobbler – don’t give in to their demands just because they’re howling!
- Avoid violence. This means ensuring that your home life is as harmonious as possible, as well as removing any violent media such as films or video games.
What Causes Anger Issues In A Child?
There are a lot of things that can make a child angry, in the same way that there are a lot of things that can make an adult angry!
Young children, especially, can become frustrated by a lack of control and autonomy. There is so little that small people have any say over; is it any wonder that they sometimes lash out in frustration?
It is not very well known that anxiety can also cause anger issues, especially if the child doesn’t know how else to express their feelings.
Experiencing anger in the home can also encourage your child to be angry and aggressive in their turn.
Try to keep an eye on your own emotions, and if you have any discussions with partners or family, make them happen after bedtime or when the kids aren’t there.
What To Say To An Angry Child?
- “I hear you.” Everyone wants their feelings to be validated, right? Your child is no different.
- “I understand – everyone gets angry sometimes.” It can be scary to be lost in rage – showing your child that it is normal will help them immensely.
- “I’m here to help.” Although it may be difficult, showing your child that you are there for them during this will help them feel safe, and they will trust you.
- “Would you like some space?” Some kids can’t handle anyone else being around while they’re having a meltdown. Giving them this option can improve the situation.
- “It’s OK to be upset.” Showing them that their feelings are acceptable will help them feel more able to talk to you about things as they get older.
- “This feeling won’t last forever.” It can feel like it’s never ending, when you’re in the middle of a tantrum – even adults know this! But your child doesn’t, so tell them that this too shall pass.
- “I’ll stay right here with you.” Being there for your kids is just about the most important thing you can do. Even if you can’t change their feelings, they will appreciate you being there holding space for them.
- “It’s good to let this feeling out.” No big feelings should ever be bottled up; this can lead to issues later in life! Allowing the emotions is the best thing you can do.
- “Let’s take some deep breaths…” This simple technique is surprisingly effective. A few breaths in and out can calm a situation, a child, and an adult, all at once.
How Do You Deal With An Angry Aggressive Child?
Aggression, particularly when it gets physical, is very hard to deal with from your child.
The most important thing to do is to keep them safe, and make sure you yourself, and any siblings or pets, are also safe.
If your child is hitting or throwing things, try to remain calm. Remove them from the situation, or redirect the aggression into something more acceptable:
- They can throw pillows or soft things.
- Get them a punching bag to release the angry tension.
- Encourage them outside to stomp around until they feel better.
- Teach them to draw how they are feeling.
- Older children may benefit from a journal.
- Seek help from a GP. If you feel your child’s behaviour is totally out of control, seek help from a professional.
Modelling behaviour to kids is very important, so if you can manage to not get mad even when your child has turned into the Tasmanian devil, you’re doing well!
We hope that this has given you a few ideas on how to deal with an angry child, to help you keep your sanity and your family relationships intact.