Dealing with Children’s Anger
Mild temper tantrums in young children are a normal part of growing up. They can include screaming, crying, kicking, hitting and whining, and are a way for children to communicate that they are frustrated, scared or upset. As a toddler develops further into childhood, uncontrollable outbursts of anger may become a problem. It is crucial to learn what goes beyond typical frustration and into the realm of anger-management issues.
The most helpful thing for a child is for the adults in his or her life to realize that feelings of anger are not bad. It is important for children to know that their feelings are valid and should be expressed. It is okay to punish actions of anger, such as hitting or kicking, but recognize where the child is coming from and what might be making them act this way.
Common reasons for angry outbursts include attempting to avoid feelings of pain or sadness, low self-esteem, situational anxiety or fear. Children with a history of verbal or physical abuse are more likely to lash out themselves.
Young children have not yet learned how to express their anger in ways that are appropriate. It is up to the adult in their life to provide them with an outlet for expression. Often, physical outlets are a great way to relieve stress, anxiety and feelings of anger in children. Consider entering your child in sports or taking frequent visits to a park or gym. Sometimes, it also helps to ignore bad behavior and positively reinforce good behavior. When your child throws a temper tantrum at the grocery store, instead of simply giving them what they want, ignore the fit and wait for the child to calm down. On a day when the child is behaving at the store, offer to buy them their favorite snack. We want children to learn what type of behavior we expect from them, but don’t provide a reward every time they display good behavior, or they may throw a fit when not rewarded.
Showing children love and affection is a simple way to control an outburst. A hug can calm the child down and allow them a moment to be still and contained. It can be frustrating and at times embarrassing when dealing with a child who has frequents bouts of screaming or kicking, but understand that most children are able to properly express their feelings over time.