Coping skills play an important role in the raising of our children. Anger is met at a young age due to the frustration many children feel when they cannot express what they want to say. Learning to meet your child’s need and read through the anger is key. It’s less about the anger and more about what they are trying to tell you.
Mark Twain wrote, “When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.” While the first part of Twain’s advice is right on, chances are, you don’t want your four-year-old sounding like George Carlin when he’s mad. You can help your child handle his anger — even when he is very small and his anger is very big. The key is keeping a cool head yourself, being a model of calmness for your child while responding to anger creatively.
It is important that children learn to distinguish between feelings and actions. Let your child know that it is okay to feel angry — that there is nothing wrong with having feelings. No matter how “bad” or scary it might seem. A feeling is just a feeling and it is not real. Feelings pass from one to another. Explain to your child that while her angry feelings are okay, slamming the door and screaming at her sister is not. When your child is calm, talk about healthy alternatives to acting out on anger. Even a very small child can “go for a walk” in the backyard to cool off and take time to shift from angry to calm. These coping skills are important.
While laughter is not appropriate for every situation, you can use it to diffuse many potentially explosive moments. For example, if your child drops her ice cream cone on the floor, you could say, “I’m sure Barley the dog is so happy you decided to share! Do you think she’ll enjoy this flavor?” Your child will be likely be giggling instead of becoming angry at the idea of losing her ice cream. If your child sees you get upset at the smallest things, chances are they are going to be acting the same way.
In an interview on Parents.com, author Michele Borba, EdD, points out that people “don’t learn how to calm down by reading about it in a book, but by seeing someone do it.” By modeling calmness in the face of your child’s anger, you are teaching him to respond appropriately during stressful situations. Borba recommends making a rule that states that “In this house, we solve problems when we’re calm and in control.”
Clinical psychologist Dr. Laura Markham recommends giving children a variety of tools to help them manage their anger. Some of her ideas include giving a child a punching bag to take out his frustration on, encouraging him to stomp his feet when he’s angry or draw a picture of what he’s angry about — and then rip it to shreds.
Parents are able to teach their children how to recognize, and acknowledge how to appropriately cope with feelings they are having. This is done when you ask questions that will prompt your child and allow them to come up with their own answers and solutions. For example: “What might happen if you were to do Choice A as apposed to Choice B?”. You may also ask “What options do you think you have available to you in order for you to find a calm resolution to this problem?”
Relaxation methods such as breath work, deep breathing skills and techniques as well as other tools they can be helpful life skills for stress management. These life skills and techniques help to change in a positive way the neural pathways in the brain. It also helps with impulse control. The more you practice a behavior the more it becomes a daily habit. If a child can practice deep breathing before acting on an impulse he will not have the desire to lash out and hit, scream or lose control. This creates a sense of self control.
Be the adult and stay present for your child. They are watching how you handle anger. Children love to defend their positions. It is your job to remain calm and composed. Children look to their parents for safety and security. If the parent displays anger then the child will model this behavior.
Remember always that you are the parent. Following the above tips can help to strengthen the relationship you have with your child. You can give children the tools they need to deal with their anger in a calm and effective way. Seek counseling today. If you find your struggling with your child’s anger, Individual and couples counseling is designed to help the parents. Also beneficial is family counseling.
In family counseling the entire family gets help. With the assistance of a therapist your family can role play and practice newly learned skills. Child Counseling is also beneficial. I am able to work one on one with your child to help implement healthy alternatives to reacting to anger. Seek the help you need today and let’s start to get your child on the right track.