How to control anger in children: 6 useful tips
We give you different strategies to help your children get out of the anger and tantrum loop.
Human feelings allow us to adapt to different situations. Therefore, all emotions are necessary, including negative ones, such as sadness or anger.
Anger is something that acquires a very important role in life since it is an emotion that motivates us to defend ourselves from aggression or situations that we consider unfair. However, uncontrolled anger can be very damaging, both for us and for those around us.
This basic emotion is especially delicate when it occurs in children, who have not yet acquired all the social rules that regulate this feeling. Therefore, emotional education focused on anger can become an important tool.
We are going to see some strategies to be able to deal with and control anger in children, promoting their emotional intelligence and giving them tools so that they can develop as future adapted adults.
Anger: a basic emotion
If human beings did not feel anger, many of the unjust situations such as slavery, oppression of ethnic minorities, and the denial of women’s rights would not have been overcome. Anger allows us to move towards what we consider to be not right and to show our discontent, either by arguing about it or fighting to prevent it from happening again.
The factors that cause this emotion to occur in children can be very varied. They could be classified into two types: the internal ones, which would be the child’s own, for example, being upset because he has not gotten good grades, and the external ones, which would be due to a factor other than him, such as having fallen and done hurt or hit by a partner.
The bad thing about this emotion is not the fact that it occurs in children. It is something natural and adaptive that allows us to face a situation that we consider unfair or in which we have been harmed. However, although it is a basic emotion, it has repercussions on a physiological level, such as changes in blood pressure and heart rate. Furthermore, given the still premature socialization and culturalization of the child, they do not know how to behave and can react by attacking and insulting other people.
How to control the anger of children?
Humans, instinctively, tend to react aggressively, however, doing so in each of the situations that generate anger is not healthy or adaptive.
It can involve problems with friends, at school, or with the family itself, being a very detrimental feeling for the correct development of the child, affecting the emotional sphere. This is why it is so important to teach children how to handle this emotion.
1. Develop empathy
It involves making the child understand that other people also have feelings, and trying to make them put themselves in the place of the other.
To encourage empathic thinking, you can present situations to the child, such as that a partner has been hit or someone has hurt themselves, and ask how they think they would feel in that situation, what they think someone who gets angry could do …
2. Recognize and express anger
When the child is immersed in an episode of anger it is more difficult to negotiate with him. He does not listen to us, especially if he is making a lot of noise slamming doors, hitting, or even breaking dishes.
The best thing to do in these cases is to wait for the storm to subside. Talk to him when he has calmed down to let him see what he has done or why he has gotten angry. Things are better understood when one is calmer.
As we have already said, the instinct is to act aggressively when you are angry. This usually leads to violent actions that can end up being very destructive.
A very interesting option is to give the child tools that do the opposite, that are constructive, and promote creativity. Some of them are painting, drawing, or writing on a piece of paper how you feel and, as you do them, let her say what she is painting or writing means.
3. Breathing exercises
Although it may seem cliché, taking a deep breath before doing something that you may regret is a good way to reduce anger, even if it is not a panacea.
As they do this, they can be told to think of a beautiful place, such as a forest, a field with flowers, or a store full of candy.
These pleasant images, along with deep breathing, help you relax and think more clearly.
4. Self-control techniques
Children must learn that any feeling is valid, but not just any behavior. They have to see that they have the right to feel offended when someone does something to them that they did not like, but they have an obligation to respond to it in a non-violent way.
Kicking, hitting, hair grabbing, spitting and name-calling are behaviors that we cannot tolerate in children, and we must blame them for doing so. If they have done it several times and in a very violent way, punishment is a necessary measure.
But the best way to avoid having to punish them is by teaching them techniques to use when they are getting angry.
One of the techniques that can be used to get started with building self-control is the traffic light technique. With some paper cards, a traffic light is made, which has three colored lights: one green, one red, and one yellow.
With the red light, we indicate that you should stop doing what you are doing because you are not controlling your anger. With the yellow one, we indicate that you should meditate on what you are doing and why you feel that way. With the green, we tell you to express what you feel.
5. Release tensions
Children who do physically demanding activities, such as soccer or swimming, come home relaxed. Sport causes endorphins to be produced that contribute to a general state of relaxation and well-being.
In addition, it acts as a self-control technique, since it allows them to handle anger more calmly.
In addition, coaches in soccer and other sports often have techniques to teach children to behave sportily in the game, without getting angry because they have been awarded a yellow card or accidentally elbowed by a teammate.
Coaches’ techniques are not only useful on the playing field, they also have a positive impact on other places in the child such as home or school.
6. Do not react to their anger
Whether the child behaves well or misbehaves does not depend solely on his personality. Education is a key factor for the child to end up being an adapted person as an adult.
The first educational environment in which the child is immersed in his own home. Parents who do not know how to respond adequately to their child’s anger episodes are like pouring gasoline into a fireplace.
If they are yelled at, scolded very loudly, or, in the most serious and dysfunctional cases, parents physically assault their own children, we should not expect them to magically behave well.
If the child does not behave as he should, the parents should not listen to him. On many occasions, they seek to be the center of attention for whatever reason. If they are listened to, they win and continue to misbehave knowing that they are getting what they want.
Although it may seem that they have a lot of energy, children end up getting tired and if they see that with what they are doing they are not achieving what they want, they will most likely stop doing it.
When to look for a professional?
Normally, children are learning how to manage anger, either through the discipline offered by parents and teachers or through being influenced by the culture with which they come into contact.
However, sometimes there are children who do not achieve sufficient self-control, even if everything possible has been done so that the child can act appropriately in an episode of anger.
Before parents blame themselves for thinking that they are not good educators or that they believe that their child has no solution, it is necessary to go to a mental health professional, to make sure that the problem is not really due to some disorder behavioral or developmental.
The professional will analyze what are the triggers of anger in the child if it is due to family factors or is it that the child suffers from some type of problem that makes it difficult for him to control himself.
In addition to having the therapeutic tools to promote a correct development in the child, the age at which they are will also be taken into account, in order to apply the most appropriate treatment according to their evolutionary stage.
How to control anger in children: 6 useful tips