It can be very disconcerting for parents when they are faced with an angry and distressed child, especially if you cannot see what could be causing so much distress.
Most children have occasional tantrums or meltdowns and may sometimes lash out if they’re frustrated, but when children continue to have regular emotional outbursts, it is usually a symptom of distress and children who seem angry and defiant on a regular basis may be suffering from anxiety. The first step to helping your child manage their anger is for you to understand what could be triggering their outbursts.
If your child is suffering from anxiety, they may have a hard time coping with situations that cause them distress which may result in them lashing out when demands at school or at home put pressure on them that they feel they can’t handle. In an anxiety-inducing situation, your child’s “fight or flight” instinct may take hold and they may have a tantrum or refuse to do something to avoid the source of acute fear.
Activity: It might be helpful to keep a journal of the times when your child has an outburst or expresses that they are feeling angry or anxious. Also note down what they were doing before the outburst or what they were planning to do prior to their unhappiness. By jotting all this down, it should help you put together an emotional map of what might be triggering their outbursts, which will eventually help you to help your child recognise when a problem might be about to occur and they can be better prepared to manage their emotions before they are triggered.
Here are a couple of useful links relating to parenting an anxious child:
What to do and not do when children are anxious.
Nine things every parent with an anxious child should try.