Are you feeling frustrated by the grocery store meltdowns, refusal for compliance in basic tasks/demands, and the yelling and screaming that permeates the house? When I ask my clients if it is ok to be angry, more times than not they respond with “no.” In fact anger is the most readily available emotion we have as it functions like an umbrella that houses other emotions as well. It might be harder to access feelings such as resentment, jealousy, fear, or sadness without anger, and often times the response is filtered through anger. Since anger is a basic emotion we all experience, I strive to educate my clients that of course it is ok to be angry, BUT it is what we do with our anger that makes all the difference in the world. Read on for tips to help your child deal with anger.
Tips To Help Your Child Deal With Anger:
- Size matters. Not all “mads” are created equal and therefore, the reaction to feeling upset shouldn’t always look the same. Work with your child to evaluate the size and severity of problems to garner a better, more reasonable reaction. For instance, if the child was disappointed that there was no more chocolate ice cream left, encourage him to asses if this is a big, medium, or small problem. If it is small, there should not be an epic meltdown. Instead, help your child identify a small reaction such as asking for a different flavor of ice cream, identify the positives about alternative dessert options, and establish a different time to get his ice cream (tomorrow night, etc.).
- Use your words, not your body. The communication of anger through verbalization allows the child the chance to express their grievance and provide a forum for collaboration and resolution. If a child begins to emotionally dysregulate (i.e. temper tantrum) the problem cannot be solved as this is not seen as a productive medium. Encourage your child to de-escalate through deep breathing, counting, writing out his thoughts, and/or removal from the triggering environment to reduce behavioral reaction and facilitate the setting for calm communication. Give the child time to calm down before working through the issue.
- Check your own anger. If your child’s temper is escalating your own mood, take time away to cool off and recalibrate. Removal from the triggering situation will provide both the child and parent time to re-regulate and establish an effective solution to the problem.
- Validation is key. Regardless of the nature of the concern, validate the experience of anger but create boundaries about what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior to communicate anger. Creating a de-escalation plan for child and parent can be helpful to reduce the duration and frequency of tantrums.
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview 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!