How to Control an Angry Child
While one kid may show anger by silently going to his room, another may sit around and mope. Some are likely to break toys, throw a temper tantrum, or display a hissy fit of rage. If I had interviewed my father on his opinion for handling such a child, his answers would contain words such as “belt”, “backhand”, “until crying stops”.
Fortunately for the kids these days, opening a can of whooping on a child is frowned upon. Dealing with an angry child calls for immense endurance, understanding and restrained. The old fashioned hand-across-face maneuver will cause severe ramifications, apparently, when a child becomes an adult. Fans of the sitcom That 70s Show will be able to identify the destructive relationship between the wimpy Eric and his war veteran dad, Red Foreman.
Managing anger is the most sensitive issue that kids face today. Children who can learn to cope with their anger have a head start on handling fears and other negative emotions. There are basically three ways of dealing with anger and only the third should be considered healthy. These are:
• Muscle the anger – Some kids express anger by physically lashing out so that a friend, sibling or parent can literally feel it.
• Mouthing the anger – Usually very hurtful to the receiving party, verbal abuse always backfires on the angry person.
• Managing the anger – This involves expressing anger in ways that are in no way hurtful to anyone including themselves.
There are various methods used in controlling anger in kids. Here are some of the steps that can help form the basis of managing anger:
• Identification: The foremost step is to the help children identify when they get angry and what happens after they do. Are there any noticeable physical signs attached? What comes to their mind when angered? We all have different reactions but tension and heavy breathing are common reactions.
• Naming it: Yes! We need to help them name it. Helping them develop a vocabulary focused around anger. "About to lose it", "short fuse" are some likely ones. Children can probably help you create more! Naming their emotion is a welcomed step to controlling anger.
• Choosing: Even as parents, we also find it difficult in making choices that affects our lives in the long run. Helping a child with anger problems to recognize that they have a choice make. Either to stay in control or lose control when they get angry might be difficult, but it is achievable.
• Expression: Encouraging a child with anger problems to verbally express themselves is healthy. Let them know that yelling when they are angry is not. The use of “I” in statements is another way of letting people know how they feel. This is a reasonable way of being heard and letting out the anger.
• Display: Some children still find it difficult to express anger verbally, and we parent need to help them find a genuine physical way to letting out their anger. Some may go for a run or play physical games to let out their anger. They may even pour their anger into some form of work or productive activities of choice.
Someone shared this story with me once and I want to pass it on to you:
Jimmy was a very hot tempered boy and he would say and do things to hurt people in times of anger, though he was always apologetic and remorseful after the tirade. To teach him a lesson, Jimmy’s father told him to hammer a nail into the wooden fence of their backyard every time he feels angry instead of taking it out on others. Days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months. By the end of that year, the fence was filled with nails. Jimmy’s father instructed Jimmy to remove all the nails, and Jimmy did so, one by one, until eventually all that was left on the wooden fence were holes.
“So you see, son,” Jimmy’s father said. “You may have removed the nails but the holes remain, and that is the damage you would have done if you have allowed your temper to affect others.”
Written by Eugene Tay, founder of Brain & Butter and Monsters Under the Bed.
When Eugene was a young boy, he wanted to be an astronaut. When that didn't take off, he decided that he was going to be like Indiana Jones and explore the world as an archaeologist. Eventually, he figured out how he can do both. That's when he became a writer.