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Tips for Helping An Angry Child

Everyone knows that feeling of anger. Whether it is extreme and long lasting or brief and mild, anger is an emotion that all people experience from time to time. People can successfully manage their anger by being aware of what triggers their emotions and using tools to help themselves calm down. Blog-Angry-Child-Main-Landscape

While children are smart, creative, funny, and strong they sometimes have a harder time than adults in calming themselves down and managing their anger. By helping them to recognize and understand this emotion, you can help them feel prepared and confident to navigate their environment successfully. The following are some tips for helping an angry child.

  1. Teach your child about the emotion “anger” along with other key emotions such as happiness, sadness, and fear—the movie “Inside Out” is a wonderful film that helps to explain these emotions (and others!) in a friendly and meaningful manner.
  2. Let your child know that they are allowed to feel all of these feelings and that it is normal for all people from time to time to feel anger—this helps them reduce any guilt or upset they have about their feeling of anger.
  3. Acknowledge your child’s angry feeling, ex. “I see that you are feeling angry,” and other feelings as well so that they can learn to differentiate the myriad of feelings they’re experiencing. It’s definitely confusing to do that at times, so with your help they will begin to do this on their own.
  4. After acknowledging their feelings of anger, encourage them to find something positive about the situation they’re in. Ex.) they are feeling angry about missing a day at the pool due to the rain, help them to see that they still get to play with their friend, have a treat, etc.
  5. Remind your child that they can and will feel better again—and even sooner if they try the above strategy!

These tips will certainly help any child that is feeling angry and they have the added benefit of improving your connection and relationship as well as there will be no shame or disappointment expressed to the child. If it feels like your child is having angry moments on a more than regular basis, extra support may be needed to help explore other feelings and situations that may be bothering your child. Working with a trained pediatric social worker can help explore these areas. Contact North Shore Pediatric Therapy today.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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“I Don’t Want to Talk About It!”- 5 Ways To Encourage Emotional Expression

If your child is resistant to communicating when upset, he may try to deny, hide, or avoid talking about his feelings.

It may be because he doesn’t feel safe expressing himself, or he could be afraid that talking about it will make him even more angry or scared than he already is. It is important for children to learn that as hard as it can be to talk about negative emotions, we need to release those feelings or they can resurface as negative behaviors and cause even worse problems. When I teach this to children, they usually give it a shot and see for themselves that they can feel much better afterwards!

5 Ways To Support Talking About Feelings:

Father hugs his daughter

  • Listen: Focus on your child, show empathy, and remove distractions.
  • Validate: Accept their feelings, even if they seem irrational.
  • Normalize: Help them understand that all emotions are normal and healthy.
  • Problem Solve: Encourage your child to come up with ways to cope.
  • Reinforce: Always praise your child for opening up.

Don’t be worried if your child still doesn’t love talking about his feelings, as this is only one way of expressing them. Some children respond better to drawing pictures, role playing with toys, or playing games to communicate their feelings. I am constantly amazed by how creative children can be when it comes to finding their favorite ways. Whatever method they prefer, encourage them to use it so they can get rid of pent-up feelings and get back to having fun!

Your child’s emotional well-being is important not only so they feel their best, but also because it supports their social and intellectual development. The positive effects are contagious to all aspects of your child’s life!

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How to Get a Break From Your Child When You Need To Cool Down

When you’re starting to, or already have, reached your limits with your child, how can you get away without fueling the fire?

Take Some Alone Time

Very Angry Mother And ChildWhen you get angry, it is usually best to wait until you’re calm again to have a productive talk about the issue. Instead of saying things like “go to your room”, tell your child that you need to go into your own room alone to cool down. Talk to your child about “alone time” and why it is a good thing and why everyone needs it sometimes. Explain to your child that “cool down” time helps you to think better and talk better.

Pick a name for your favorite spot to cool down, and call it something like “chill spot”, “cool down corner” or “cool chair” and tell them that this is where you might go sometimes to calm down. Tell them it is very important for you to be alone at this time, and it will be only a minute or two (as long as your child is able to be left without direct supervision). Your child should choose their own spot in the house also, and perhaps they can wait in their spot while you are taking your moment alone.

Start Out Small

If your child has a particularly hard time with this and feels overly rejected, try starting out with short increments of time and gradually increasing it as they handle it successfully. You can use a kitchen timer to set a minute or two, and let them know that when the timer goes off you will be back. I suggest giving them an immediate sign of physical affection along with verbal praise to reinforce their patience!

When you do this with your child, you are modeling extremely positive behavior! You are showing your children how to cope with anger and frustration in an appropriate way.

Teach A Lesson About Anger

When you reunite, be sure to give lots of love and praise! Show them that alone time is not about rejection, it is about making good choices. Always reinforce to a child that feeling angry doesn’t mean they are “bad” (a very common perception of theirs that I hear about often). The only “bad” part about anger is the “bad choice” they can make when feeling angry and do not take time to cool off. “Good choices” need to be taught and modeled, and what better way than to let them see you use this technique yourself!

Don’t forget to use your spouse as a resource when they are around. Have a special signal between you that lets each other know when you need them to step in, so you can take a break. Remember that you will be much more effective with your child once you are calm and that self-care makes you the best parent you can be!