Parenting is never an easy job, but it can be even more difficult when you have a consistently angry child. It can be draining to be either constantly managing outbursts, or wondering when the next incident will occur. There are ways though, that parents can cope with an angry child and also develop tools to help their children cope with their anger.
Angry Child Tip #1: Learn to Stay Calm
Some parents never get phased when their child has an outburst. It seems like they were been born with an infinite amount of patience! If your patience doesn’t run that deep, however, this is a skill that can be learned and mastered. For instance:
- Learn to Breathe: Practice breathing exercises that can help keep you calm when stressed.
- Practice Meditation: Meditation can be a formal way to practicing breathing exercises and to create mindfulness.
- Maximize Quiet Times: When you have a quiet moment to be alone, take advantage of the time to pause and slow down. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, being able to take a short break can be helpful.
Angry Child Tip #2: Don’t Take it Personally
When your child is reacting and directing his/her anger at you, try not to take it personally. Remember, it takes time to develop the proper responses for difficult emotions, even well into adulthood. Also, some children have developmental concerns that can make it even more difficult to express emotions constructively. Being able to not take things personally can also help with maintaining your own composure to cope with the situation at hand.
Angry Child Tip #3: Don’t Just Send Them to Their Room
Being able to cope with an angry child doesn’t mean ignoring behavior. You can still create expectations of behavior for your child and provide consequences. Laura Markham, PhD., writes in Psychology Today that one of those consequences should not be isolation. You know, “Go to your room!” Yes, your child will calm down, but they will also learn that being angry is not acceptable and that they are on their own as to how to manage their emotions. Instead, she suggests:
- Remember that anger is one way for children to “let off steam.”
- Anger is part of the “fight, flight, or freeze,” emotional response.
- Provide limits directed to the child’s actions, not their feelings.
- Avoid explaining or reasoning with your child when they are angry.
- Acknowledge your child’s anger and work with them to calm down.
- Stay close to your child.
- Make sure you are safe.
You can use these angry moments as opportunities to teach your child new tools to regulate their emotions and to learn what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
Angry Child Tip #4: Make a Plan with Your Child
If you know that your child gets angry, talk to him/her when they are calm to formulate a plan of action for when they do get angry. When it happens, you can work with them through the plan to help them calm down. This also shows that you care and want to support them. Dr. Gail Gross in the Huffington Post suggests:
- Taking space from the situation (but you are sitting with them).
- Learning to identify anger triggers.
- Teach them to recognize their emotions.
- Learning how to relax.
Angry Child Tip #5: Ask For Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help for coping with your angry child. A therapist trained in counseling children with anger issues can help you identify what is wrong and provide advice to help your child better manage emotions.
If you are wondering how to best cope with an angry child, you are not alone. There are resources available and people who can help you and your child find peace of mind, learn how to manage emotions, and thrive in life.