Anger and frustration can manifest in various forms and can turn into aggression, defiance, and disrespect. Children who didn’t learn how to manage anger may have problems at school, making friends, and keeping healthy emotionally. When you help your kids learn to deal with anger productively, you’re helping them develop a high emotional intelligence (EQ). Studies show that our EQ greatly influences the quality of our lives. As a parent, you are in a unique position to influence your child to deal with anger constructively. However, dealing with anger is tricky, more so for kids. But before we dive into these anger-dampening activities, here are a few interesting facts about anger.
What You Need to Know About Anger
We often tend to look at anger as a negative emotion, and it can truly be destructive, but it has its purpose. It is a potent emotion that alerts us that something is wrong, and we need to take action. If your kids are angry all the time, there could be underlying problems that you might not be aware of because anger is easier to express compared to other emotions. It makes us feel powerful, while other emotions such as anxiety or shame may make us feel vulnerable.
You may think you feel angry but beneath that anger could be fear and hurt. Children are not yet well-trained to handle their emotions. (Heck, a lot of adults aren’t either.) They could be experiencing these unfamiliar emotions for the first time, and it can get pretty overwhelming. Understanding this can help you be more patient when faced with an angry child.
Help your child acknowledge that anger is a complicated emotion. Oftentimes, anger masks other emotions that make your child feel vulnerable. An embarrassed child will likely resort to anger to save face. Anger is the emotion that’s easier to display, and it’s often just the tip of the iceberg. To uncover these hidden emotions, use the iceberg technique. When your child is relaxed and no longer angry, have him write down all the other emotions that he felt throughout the day aside from anger. This allows him to become more self-aware.
Anger is a physical emotion. When we feel anger in parts of our body, it signals us that we have to do something about it. Help your child explore where they feel the sensation of anger. Ask your child to draw himself and color the parts where he feels the anger. Children will often say that they feel anger in their head, their mouth, or their hands. Identifying where in their body they feel the anger encourages them to be more self-aware. You could teach your kids to practice calming techniques whenever they start feeling the angry sensations in their body.
Anger is a forceful emotion that can drown us, more so our kids. You can help your child learn that anger is a part of us. But it doesn’t have to be our master. Therapists use the technique of personifying anger to make it easier to deal with. One way of helping your child personify anger is by asking him to draw a representation of anger and give it a name. By externalizing anger, it becomes something that can be dealt with. It’s no longer an abstract idea that’s inside him. Instead, it becomes concrete. This helps him resolve the problem of anger more effectively.
Set aside a comfortable place where your child can retreat to whenever the emotion of anger becomes too much to handle. It’s safer for your child to develop the habit of retreating into his own “fortress of solitude” instead of manifesting his anger through aggression. Make that place comfy by providing it with soft pillows, stuffed toys, and blankets. You can also provide a pen and pad paper so he can write his feelings whenever he gets angry.
Helping your kids become more aware of what triggers their anger prepares them. It enables them to intelligently face stressful situations. When your children are calm, have them write down things that make them angry. Ask them:
You can explore those triggers and list them down.
When we get mad, our breathing pattern changes. We breathe faster when we get angry. Consciously slowing down our breathing can help us calm down. Breathing slowly can slow down heartbeats that are going on overdrive. You can make it more fun for kids. Here are some breathing techniques to get your kids to slow down their breathing.
Get creative. You can get them to imagine that they are an animal. A hissing snake. A huffing wolf from Little Miss Red Riding Hood.
Focusing on the intensity of your child’s anger will help them become more aware of it. Awareness, in turn, leads to better self control. You can create an ‘anger meter.’ This could simply be a chart with a number scale. One could be happy and five could be ‘super mad.’ You can draw examples for each level. Level zero could have a cake drawing and a smiley face. Level two could be something less enjoyable than a cake-like playing with friends. Level three could be something annoying like a dropped ice cream cone. Work your way up to number 10. It’s often surprising where children place certain annoyances in the scale. This can be a revealing experience for parents as well.
These activities are not magic. They won’t automatically calm down your angry child. Anger management is, after all, a journey. These 7 anger management hacks will help you and your child work with anger, instead of against it.
Know better, do better:
About the Author
Arvin Buising is the father of four angry kids. Most of his kids are now grown-ups and they have amazingly learned to somehow control their anger. He currently works as a Content Strategist for Games.lol – a website that allows you to play android games on your Windows PC or Mac.