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Teaching your kids how to navigate their angry emotions can be a challenge–especially if you never learned how to manage your own.
Here are a few simple steps to help you feel more success with your children and empower you as a parent.
Teach them coping strategies for different environments
When you are angry at home, you can go outside and bounce a basketball, punch a pillow in your room, run a lap outside or even turn up the music and sing loudly.
The problem for kids is that any outward expression of anger in a school setting will mostly likely get them in trouble.
Teach your kids that what works at home may not work at school.
Give them ways to manage their behavior that don’t get them in trouble like:
Request to see the school counselor to talk it out
If the teacher has a calm down corner in their room, request to go there
Squeeze a stress ball
Doodle on a piece of paper
Talk to the teacher about what made them angry
Teach them the I Feel method
I feel mad when you…..
I feel disappointed when you….
My feelings were hurt when you…..
I’m guilty of telling my kids to use their words, but then I don’t provide them with the words to use. It’s important to not only give your children the skill set to deal with their problems, but make sure they understand how to use it.
These conversations start when they are toddlers. When they are toddlers, talk them through scenarios. As they acquire language skills, they will begin to mimic the words that you provided to them.
When my daughters have a disagreement, I resist the urge to get frustrated and send them to their rooms. We talk through the issue and I often encourage them to talk it out.
We discuss what upset them, and I encourage them to talk to each other and let each other know how they felt. I model these conversations with them until they can do them on their own.
When I hear yelling, I remind them to use respect when speaking to each other. It’s definitely a work in progress, but the more you start teaching them effective communication skills at an early age, the more empowered they will feel about advocating for their own feelings in a variety of environments.
Give them time to cool down
Remember everyone expresses emotions differently, so while you may be ready to talk it out, your child may need some time to cool down before they talk.
Try not to compare your siblings. “Your sister never pouted like you do when she was mad.”
This can be difficult if you have a mild mannered child and one who seems to struggle with managing their anger, but you don’t want your child to begin to resent the one you are comparing them to.
Don’t make excuses for bad behavior while angry
“Your dad use to break stuff too when he was angry.”
Being angry is not bad–it is a normal emotion that comes as a secondary response to another feeling (embarrassment, feeling left out, etc), however lashing out and hurting others while angry is not okay.
As a veteran school counselor, I notice that boys seem to struggle more with outward expressions of anger while girls tend to internalize or use microaggressions.
When I talk to students about being angry, one of their first responses is that they know their anger was bad. I work to help them reframe those thoughts and show them that anger is normal, but hurting others (with words or physical aggression) is not okay.
If emotions seem out of control or not appropriate for the situation, seek out the help of professionals
It can be frustrating when you feel like you are being judged because of your child’s behavior. Sometimes you have exhausted everything you know to do, and your child’s behavior is still out of control.
It may be time to enlist the help of a professional.
Is your child acting out because they can’t hear?
Do they have a disability that interferes with their ability to control their emotions?
Getting a 2nd or 3rd opinion allows you to make the best decision for your child so you aren’t punishing them for something that they can’t help.