February 24th, 2017
CALMING YOUR ANGRY CHILD (1)
Anger is a natural and basic emotion that needs to acknowledged and processed so that it does not get locked up inside. In order to help your child manage her anger constructively, she needs to live in a home where anger is handled in a healthy way.
So, here are a few tips to help your child handle her anger the proper way:
1. Allow your child to express all feelings. When anger is repressed, it becomes no longer under conscious control and it may pop up unregulated at any time when your child gets triggered. While actions need to be managed, emotions need to be allowed so that your child can accept them instead of repressing them. The acceptance of the emotion gives your child cognitive control over it, so she can start using words instead of using her limbs.
2. Stay calm. Yelling at an angry child will only reinforce what she is already feeling. Instead, your calm presence helps her feel safe and de-escalate her strong feelings. In response to a calm attitude, the frontal cortex, which is the “reasoning brain” will take over and your child can learn how to soothe herself.
3. Help your child redirect her anger. Your child needs to know that you understand why and how upset she is. So, support your child to express her anger physically in appropriate ways. Here are a few examples you may want to suggest: a pillow or a punching bag to beat up, stomping feet, drawing or writing on paper what she is angry about (for older kids), put on music and do an “angry dance”, shouting in a bag.
4. Teach your child how to become aware of her “warning signs”. If your child learns how to notice when she is getting annoyed and knows how to calm herself, she will have less angry outbursts. So, when she is little, learn her cues and take preventive action such as offering snuggling time. Point out to her whenever you notice your child getting triggered and say to her “I am noticing you are getting upset, let’s figure out how to handle how you feel.”
When you accept and empathize with your child’s emotions, she learns that all emotions are fine and can be felt, but not necessarily acted on. By contrast, if you don’t help your child feel safe enough, she will keep losing her temper because she does not have any other way to cope with what she feels inside.
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As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.