4 Ways To Help Your Kids Deal With Anger
No one enjoys when their kid has a tantrum, but doesn’t the indulgence of having one sound satisfying? I know there have been multiple times in my adult life when the urge to stomp my feet and shout from deep in my gut feels like it would really soothe my soul. Anger is a trickster of an emotion because you have to strike precisely the right balance to express it and release it in a healthy fashion.
Holding anger in weakens your energy and shows up in other ways, like resentment, stress, and grudges. But letting anger unabashedly rip causes regret, hurts others, and lingers if not properly managed. As a parent, you want ways to help your kids deal with anger that set them up for success, meaning a healthy release of the feeling as well as an understanding of how to cope when anger rears its feisty head.
The most important thing to remember when helping your impassioned offspring is to take a satellite view. Pull yourself up and away from the moment and become an observer so you don’t take things personally (even if their anger is directed at you) or start to let your own anger bubble up. Use this detached strategy to stay present and effective when using these tips.
Give Them Space
As adults, it’s easy to be annoyed with the things your kids loose their marbles about because it’s usually stupid. I mean, let’s be honest. Someone at school had a better snack than me, my brother keeps making a clicking sounds with his tongue, why can’t I have money to spend on video games? It’s completely idiotic. But not to your child. These things that make you roll your eyes hold a semi-truck full of importance to your little one and all they really need is for you to hold space for them to purge the anger demons.
Giving you kids space to express their angry feelings means listening without judgement, just allowing them to say what they need to say and move on. Resist the urge to jump in and give your two cents (there will be a time for that later when your mini-me has stopped fuming) and instead just be an ear for them to fill with their feelings.
Sometimes all you have to say is, “I can tell you’re really angry,” and your child will feel seen and validated enough that the balloon of fury deflates. If your child is like mine, you may have to say this a few times, in a couple variations, before the validation juice kicks in. Either way, it lets them know you hear them and acknowledge how they feel.
Get To The Root Cause
Anger is a secondary emotion, sparked by a deeper feeling that is lingering below the surface. Once your child has calmed down after being angry, try to help them find the root cause. Ask questions like, What about this situation makes you so angry? How would you have liked this situation to have gone differently? What would you change if you could? Then put on your spy goggles to spot the emotions that trigger the anger response. Feelings like: embarrassment, fear, disappointment, jealousy, anxiousness, rejection, nervousness, fatigue, frustration, and sadness.
Helping them name the underlying emotion gives your child insight and clarity to what they’re really feeling and also leads to problem-solving the most effective ways to cope.
Make A Plan, Man
A golden opportunity to make an anger management plan is when your child is in a light and agreeable mood. Snatch-up this happy moment and create a plan with your small fry for healthy ways to release their anger when they feel it come on. This way, they have a coping skill or two to employ when they notice themselves getting red in the face. Need some ideas? Here ya go.
Hug a pillow or hit a pillow against the bed
Jump up and down and imagine the anger leaving the body through the feet with every jump
Write down everything thought and feeling happening in the moment
Squeeze a stress ball or play dough
Take deep breaths
Do something symbolic to release the anger, like shaking it off the body, flushing it down the toilet, throwing it out the window, or putting it in the trash can.
Take some alone time in a quiet space
Listen to music
You don’t need a degree in psychology to help your kids deal with anger, you just need to come to the table with some tools to support them through this strong feeling. To help you keep that satellite view when your child gets fired up, take a deep breath and remind yourself of your role as a loving parent. Having your mindset in check keeps you focused on offering your child tools for coping with life that will last long past their young years. What a gift to give them!