Helping your child learn to recognise the feeling of “oncoming anger” and teaching them to deal with their anger healthily will have many benefits not only for the child but for the whole family.
When children learn how to manage their angry outbursts they will learn to solve problems and cope with their emotions in a balanced and safe way. It is a good idea to explain to children that anger is the problem, and it is not them that is the problem. You could give the anger a character, or name and ask your child to draw what they think this angry character looks like. Ask them what colour he/she would be, what kind of face would they have, what specific features will the “angry character” have and what have they decided to call him/her? Anger need not be a character; it could be a volcano or a raging sea, it could even resemble a weather pattern such as a tornado or wild storm. With your child, think of some creative ways to describe and depict anger and if you can aim to make this amusing, it takes the edge off.
The way you respond to your child’s anger will influence how they continue to respond and feel about their angry outburst. Talking to your child and identifying early warning signs that an outburst might be near will be very helpful and help your child to recognise what triggers them and how to manage there reactions, or if they can, avoid the trigger altogether. Encourage your child to walk away from their triggers or get them to do simple things like counting to ten or taking three or four belly breaths. It is worth remembering that children model our behaviour, so this is good advice for us too.
Positive feedback is important, so it would be helpful to praise your child’s efforts to manage their anger even if they really struggle to manage how they feel and still end up erupting like a volcano. This will build your child’s confidence in the battle against anger. It will also help them feel that you’re both learning together.
Anger can rise quickly and can be a frightening and unsettling experience even for the angry person. As frustrating as it can be to have to deal with adults and children who regularly display angry behaviour, patience and perseverance and a big dose of loving kindness can go along way to helping them get to grips with this unruly emotion.
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