Two Important Ways To Manage Your Child’s Anger

 

As my kids get older, I’m realizing the ongoing need to parent them through difficult emotions, especially anger. It takes great effort and insight into helping them develop productive ways to express themselves. It’s easy to miss some of those teachable moments, in the hurried hectic lives we lead. We must realize these little people are learning how to navigate some powerful emotions and they need our nurturing support. I know I have missed the mark through countless opportunities I could have done better, was rushed, or honestly needed my authority in tact for prideful and selfish reasons.

These are the challenging parts of parenting. The times when we want to be right and in charge, although the best thing we can do is step down off our platform of being the “boss” and allow our kids to express themselves, have a voice, and ultimately teach them how to handle frustration and anger. It takes effort and intention, to see when these opportunities arise. It takes patience and perseverance in watching the fruits of our labor grow. If we really think about our ‘end game’ having our children learn how to navigate their decisions and emotions and take responsibility for both, then we must allow the course of our parenting to take a turn toward empowerment and independence. It’s hard when the moment is heated and we find ourselves angry and simply want to shut down the interaction. It happens to the best of us.

Two Ways To Manage Your Kid's Anger

 

I am working on the following two ways I can help my children grow in expressing themselves when they are angry. It takes a deep breath and a steady hand of authority, as I stop myself from slamming on the breaks and sending those marching orders in the heat of the moment. I’m finding these two things simply must take place for my children to understand and communicate their anger properly.

 

 

1. Allow your child to have a voice.

There is a fine line between giving our children the freedom and power to say anything they want and allowing them to express their opinions and feelings without letting them free-fall into selfish entitlement. When our children feel ‘wronged’, they lash out. How many times do we battle through the ‘That’s not fair!!” or the “Why can’t I!?” or better yet, “You are wrong!!” with our own weapons of “Because I said so!” or dishing out the consequence or punishment with a heavy hand of “We are done!”

I have found that the greatest battles that happen with my children are not caused by the actual injustice they feel they have been given, but the frustration they feel in not being heard. I am finding that although the consequence may stay the same, if I allow them to express their view on the matter in a controlled and mature way, the situation simmers down and I sense them feeling validated as a person with a voice that is worthy of my attention.

I have caught myself many times in the throws of a meltdown, and I calmly say “You can tell me how you feel, if you are not yelling.” They immediately start to share their lamentations about the particular circumstance and I nod and make it known that I do in fact care about the way they feel. The interaction shifts as they often show relief of being heard, whether or not anything changes in the outcome.

They may still be upset and angry, but they were able to say why. Don’t we all want to have our own voice heard when we are upset or angry? I believe this is one way we can love our kids through the act of allowing them to express themselves, even in the midst of those emotion fueled moments. This takes ongoing practice for them, as they are given the chance to say how they feel. It may escalate over and over again, as you teach them how to control their voice and only allow them to use it when they are able to express themselves in an appropriate manner.

2. Let them be angry.

I think too often, we don’t allow our kids to express their anger because we are disciplining them and their outbursts of frustration escalate with our intervention. We need to not send them an ongoing message that they aren’t allowed to be angry when something doesn’t go their way. Don’t we, in fact get angry when things don’t go our way? Anger is a natural and justified feeling, and if we ignore or punish them for having it, how does that help them learn how to express this tricky emotion? We need to teach our kids how to express anger in an appropriate way, and the only way we can do that is to let them be angry and show them how to articulate those feelings around anger in a productive way.

By no means should this undermine your authority or allow your child to overpower your relationship. Instead, this will establish a relationship where your child will learn to trust that you value his/her feelings and honor his/her worth. By respecting your child’s emotions, you are teaching him/her how to respect other people’s emotions too.

I’ve seen so many parents immediately punish their kids for showing anger, thereby sending them the message that anger is wrong and unacceptable, when really it’s their behavior that is bad, not the feeling. We can discipline the behavior, but we need to also parent the emotion behind that behavior. If we don’t address that anger, where does it go?

Kids need to learn the healthy way to release their anger and how to appropriately seek validation in expressing such a critical and sensitive emotion. Anger leads to poor decision-making and negative behaviors if it doesn’t get addressed. If we are able to dive in during those hot moments and teach our children how to work through such powerful emotions, they will be better able to manage those eruptions and develop a skill set they will need for life.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for writing this! I have the tendency to get angry at my son for getting angry at his sister then his sister gets angry at me for getting angry at her brother for getting angry at her. Ugh! I really need to learn when to shut my mouth and LISTEN.

  2. says

    You are so right about this Chris and yet it is truly so hard to let our kids show anger and disappointment as it just seems to go against every fiber and grain we have instilled in us. But this reminder is very much appreciated today at least for me now more then ever. Thank you my dear friend.

    • says

      Anger is ‘not allowed’ in many places… and I hate that! It’s a healthy emotion, that needs to be addressed with our children. I am in the throws of ‘teaching’ this perspective with my kids right now!

  3. says

    These are fantastic pieces of advice, Chris! I think it is so true that children need to be allowed to express their feelings and know that they are being heard while still understanding there are boundaries. (Of course, this all comes from working with children rather than being a parent since the parent thing is still all relatively new to me!) But I truly genuinely believe that children need to be taught how to safely express their emotions and need to know that they are allowed to. I’m sure in the throes of dealing with an outburst it is not easy, but I hope as Eve gets older and I (hopefully) have more children I learn to instill patience and understanding and give them the space to express their anger.

    • says

      AW! You do a fantastic job listening and helping our kids express themselves better. I love love love you, for being so tuned to our babes. They are SO blessed to have you for their father. And me? Well, I’m the luckiest girl in the world. <3

  4. says

    Great advice. I had a friend, when I was pregnant, told me that when the teen age years/drama comes (and it will) to say, when your child is the most angry, “I love you”. That even though they are mad and you are in the midst of it all, reminding them that you love them even though you might not like one another at that moment is the most important thing for them to hear

  5. says

    I couldn’t agree more, my friend. That anger needs a voice; it can’t be shut off. But we must teach our children how to voice it. What good work you do!

    • says

      Everyone feels anger… but I think it is the MOST powerful feeling to navigate through. Our kids need our help in doing that! We can show them how…

  6. says

    I absolutely agree! Often, I just let the meltdown play out because I know they need to express their frustration (usually at the end of a long day) and then once they’re calm, it’s easier to talk and reason!

    • says

      Yeah… meltdowns happen, don’t they? I’m working on NO meltdowns from my kids- they are old enough to control themselves. If they start to unravel, I usually help them control themselves- and walk them through what they are feeling and why and try to help them tell me without losing it! If they aren’t able to listen and work with me- they are sent to their rooms to cool off.

  7. says

    Great post! I am the mommy to a 16 month old who is just recently starting to show little bouts of anger and frustration, and I must confess, the transition from helpless baby to strong willed toddler is a bit overwhelming at times! Great post, thank you for sharing!

    Anyhoo, I stumbled upon your blog through a fellow blogger and thought I would just stop by and say hi! It would totally make my day if you did the same – or better yet! Keep in touch! <3 – http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

    • says

      Oh those toddler years are so hard to manage!! You can’t ‘speak truth’ to them… or help nurture through ‘processing their feelings’… you have to parent them in that moment- speaking their language! It can be such a stubborn stage! So glad you came by to visit, Gingi! 🙂

  8. says

    I appreciate this! Just today I saw Des get really mad at Scarlet and since he’s 2.5.. I was really curious as to what he’d do! Would he hit? Kick? Bite?
    I actually watched him self-soothe, though, and he just dropped it and smiled. I was surprised! I felt like I was watching animals in the wild.
    We’ve had some outbursts from Scarlet that I found unacceptable, but it’s been getting better now that she’s school-age.

  9. says

    I so agree with the fact that we have to let our kids express their anger!!! I think that part of the problem with some adults is they never learned a proper way to express anger when they were younger. (I might have been one of those people and I’ve struggled with controlling my temper as an adult.)
    Now we talk about things – when something upsets me the boys are willing to listen. When they are angry, they know that I will listen.

    • says

      I love how well you communicate with your boys, Kim. I think we could all learn a lot by how you parent. 🙂 I can just tell how close you are to them, and how tight your family is. It’s really beautiful. <3

  10. says

    so agree that kids need to see proper displays of anger (which is very very different from uncontrolled anger, or Rage), and the appropriate ways to deal in the aftermath.
    If I see one of our kids losing control, I send them to their room and tell them “it’s okay that you are angry or frustrated about this – that’s normal; but you need to act in an appropriate way. and especially not take it out on those of use with you. Go calm down and then we can talk if you like.” I think it helps that they feel like their feelings matter — there’s validation in acknowledging that they are normal and not alone.

    • says

      Exactly Leslie!! I should have also added that we role model how to express anger… Lord knows my kids have picked up on some ‘not so good ways’ to express it, so clearly I need to make sure I am demonstrating a more productive and appropriate way too!

  11. says

    The frustration they feel at not being heard…YES. I’m guilty of that sometimes, I’m afraid. With teenagers, I want them to express their anger in a respectful way. You can be angry with me, but you can’t disrespect me. It’s hard, and it’s an uphill battle. But we’re working on it.

    • says

      You know, I was thinking about teens and how hard that is compared to my tween and grade schooler!! That’s a whole ‘other ball game!! I just hope I am teaching them these skills now, so they can apply them and the base of our communication is set for those tumultuous years ahead!

    • says

      Oh girl, it’s hard for ALL of us to do it in the moment!! Especially if you have a whining frustrated kid who you just want to SHUT UP. 😉 SO hard. I often shut down the conversation with my boy- until he calms down enough to talk. It sometimes takes a few tries, actually before he can talk without raising his voice. That kid is a WHINER!!! Oy.

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