Thinking about children's anger

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Here are some of the things we may think when our children get angry and what we can do about it.

My child lacks emotional skils and that’s why he/she gets angry.

This may not necessarily be true for all children, some children can be very empathic and still lose their temper and feel out of control. It may not be that they lack emotional skills but that they are really emotional. Things that may improve this may be asking the child what they think they were feeling before getting angry and saying something like, “well if my sister took my toy I would be sad" or "if my mum said I could not have something I really wanted I would feel disappointed.” This will encourage them to develop their feelings vocabulary.  This will also lead to them feeling more understood, giving them a chance to think about or explain their motives and allowing the child to feel accepted, that's it's ok to feel strong emotions sometimes.

They should just snap out of it.

What was the point of my child getting angry, they should just get over it and move on. Sometimes some children’s anger builds up over time and it may come out in some revenge or retaliation later on. Some children may have an angry moment and be able to recover quickly and get on with life as usual after the event. Other children may also feel remorse and take some time to come to terms with their regret or even disappointment in themselves for not being perfect or in control.  They may also not want to talk about how they feel.  If  you’re the parent of this child exercise a little extra patience, don't encourage them to feel excluded or ask siblings to ignore them to teach them a lesson.  Patience and gentle encouragement will help them to get back to normal.

It’s such a small thing, they have no right to be angry, if anything I should be angry look what he/she just broke

It looked like a small thing from the outside and once again somethings may have been brewing under the surface for a while and built up prior to the angry event. It may also be that the little things add up and it comes out all at once. This is the opportunity to ask the child, when they are calm after the event, what is going on for them? Has something been troubling them lately or what’s on their mind?

It’s easy to react and fall into the trap of giving them a reaction, afterall they deserve it, they brought it on themselves. If they did not get angry in the first place this would not have happened.

We can react, we can yell back, we can chase them to their room we can fight at the doorknob but sometimes we need to backoff and most of all we need to stay as calm as possible. The calmer we are the less we add fuel to the fire.  It also allows the child the skills to be able to work out for themselves what is the best way fo them to calm down and understand themselves on their own. If the angry events happen more frequently, you may want to ask the child "what do you want at that time?" or "what would you like me to do for you when you get angry?". 
How can you support them and what would they find helpful when they are angry or feeling out of control.

I just can’t connect with him/her. I just feel like he/she won’t open up to me.

What’s your reaction when your child clams up. Do you nag, do you tease or joke, do you tell others in the family to ignore them. Angry moments are not the moments to connect.  Although there may be opportunities afterwards.  Offer your child space and let them know where you are when they are ready to talk etc.  No child wants to be alone or totally independent but they do try to test the waters and there are good ways and bad ways to support this phase. 

Would love to hear from you - leave your comment, suggestions or thoughts below.

A lesson in communication

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I’ve had a few difficult days, got up the other morning made lunches and ironed my son’s shirts for school because I had been at an athletics day the day before and totally forgot to iron them. My 9yo started complaining that the ironed shirt was no good because he wants to be able to roll the sleeves up at school and be cool!~? He complained that the shirt was too tight to roll up. He was arguing with me and I did not have time to iron another shirt, so I told him if he could iron one without a crease he could wear a different one.

Of course he’s never used an iron so the task was an impossible one but he tried anyway. He plugged in the iron and after a couple of minutes started yelling “I don’t know how”. Then my 8yo started saying what the time is and how he’s going to be late now. Again I’m yelling out “that shirt better not have creases”. Finally he gave in and wore the original shirt that I had ironed in the firstplace and I calmly said to him “I can’t iron a new one, we don’t have time and I’m stressed because I have to do so many things today and the car needs repairing and (this and that) and then you’re adding pressure to iron a new shirt” – he asked a couple of clarifying questions relating to what I had said. I answered them as succinctly as I could. As I turned to walk away he said , “ I’m sorry mum”. It stopped me in my tracks and I turned back and gave him a cuddle and said I was sorry too.

It was amazing how quickly the situation got resolved once there was clear communication and he could understand that I was feeling pressured by circumstances.

Children do understand if we tell them what’s going on in our minds (at a level and appropriateness for them). They don’t understand when we just yell, or get frantic or tell them to do stuff because we’re feeling stressed and out of control.

If they know what we’re experiencing and we can do it without making them feel guilty then they take the opportunity to step up.

We cannot read each other's minds, but we can speak each other's language.

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