Do you have a child that shows signs of anger often? Read our tips on how to manage the angry child outbursts.
All children occasionally demonstrate unreasonable anger. The child might be tired, or over stimulated, or nervous, or just plain crabby. These children are easy to manage and a simple consequence is enough to stop them from doing it again (at least for a few months) and the rest of the time, the displays of anger are typical of their age and stage.
Some children, however, have frequent anger outbursts that are not managed by typical parenting strategies and these episodes leave the parents, or the targets, feeling emotionally distraught and even abused. Some of the ways these children show anger include:
- hurting others (including animals) by pinching or hitting or pushing
- throwing objects
- using verbally hostile and threatening words
- yelling and ranting
- not taking any responsibility for how they are feeling or what they are doing
- not able to respond to typical parental attempts at de-escalation
- angry for long periods of time
- deliberately provoking others to anger
- using anger to manipulate a situation
- believes that whatever she is feeling is true
Children generally develop anger problems from a combination of how their brain is structured and what they have experience in life. Most, but not all, children who display unusual levels of anger have had some kind of negative life experiences, such as early neglect/abuse, or early abandonment, or pre-natal exposure to toxic substances.
They may lack the capacity to form a healthy attachment to the parents and the anger creates even greater damage to the parent/child relationship.
How to Manage the Angry Child Outbursts
If you are raising a child with atypical anger issues, here are some strategies to help you manage:
- Have a thorough psychiatric assessment to determine if there are underlying organic causes
- Observe the child’s day to day activities to learn what triggers her (not all children have apparent triggers but most do)
- Learn his early warning signs that indicate this is going to be a day in which there will be an anger explosion
- Don’t take the anger outbursts personally, remember that this is a child with self-regulation problems
- Don’t be triggered to an escalated emotional state – remain calm but firm
- Remind the child of a pre-planned consequence, but make sure it’s short and simple
- Walk away if possible and let the child wear her anger out
- Remove the audience – people are a source of stimulation for the anger
- Remind the child of his choices at the moment
- Change the environment if possible – having the child follow you from the kitchen to the back yard can provide enough distraction to being a de-escalation process
Children with this type of anger problem can learn to manage the rage over time, but they require patience and a firm, consistent, and reasonable response to each outburst.
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