It’s tough to know how to help an angry kid. But some kids despite their small size, seem to have an endless supply of anger buried inside them.
They grow frustrated very easy. They yell. They might even become aggressive. But they’re usually blow up over seemingly minor events. If you’re raising the child whose angry outbursts have become a problem, it’s important to teach him the skills he needs to deal with his feelings in a healthy way. Here are seven ways to help with anger:
1. Teach your child about Feelings
Kids are more likely to lash out when they don’t understand their feelings & they’re not able to verbalize them. A child who can’t say, “I’m mad,” may he try to show you he’s angry by lashing out. Or a child who isn’t able to explain that he is sad, may misbehave to get your attention.
Begin teaching your child basic feeling words such as scared, mad, sad, & happy. Label the feelings of your child for him by saying, “It looks like you feel really angry right now.” Over time, he’ll learn to label his emotions himself.
As your child develops a better understanding of his emotions & how to describe them, teach him more sophisticated words such as frustrated, worried, disappointed, & lonely.
2. Create an Anger Thermometer
Anger thermometers are tools which help kids recognize the warning signs that their anger is rising. Draw a large thermometer on the piece of paper. Start at the bottom with a 0 & fill in the numbers up until 10, which should land at the top of the thermometer.
Explain that 0 (zero) means “no anger at all.” A 5 means “a medium amount of anger,” & 10 means “the most anger ever.”
Talk about what happens to the body of you at each number on the thermometer. Your child might say he’s smiling when he’s at a level 0 but has a mad face when he reaches level 5 & by the time his anger gets to a level 10, he may describe himself as the angry monster.
Talk about how his body feels when your child grows angry. He might feel his face get hot when he’s a level two & he might make fists with his hands when he’s a level seven.
When kids learn to recognize their signs of warnings, it will help them understand the need to take a break, before their anger explodes at a level 10. Hang the anger thermometer in a prominent location & refer to it by asking, “What level if your anger today?”
3. Develop the Plan to help your Child Calm Down
Teach your child what should do when he begins to feel angry. Rather than throw blocks when he is frustrated, or hit his sister when he’s annoyed, teach him healthier strategies that help with anger.
Encourage your child to put himself in time-out when he is upset. Show him that he doesn’t need to wait until he makes a mistake & gets sent to time-out, but instead, he can go to his room for a few minutes to calm down when your child begins to feel angry.
Encourage him to color, read a book, or engage in another calming activity until he calms enough to resume his activity.
You might even create a calm down kit. A kit could include your child’s favorite coloring books & some crayons, a favorite toy, a fun book to read, stickers, or lotion that smells good.
When he is upset, you can say, “Go get your calm down kit,” & encourage him to take responsibility for calming himself down.
4. Teach specific Anger Management Techniques
One of the best ways to help your angry child is to teach specific anger management techniques. Taking deep breaths, for example, can calm your child’s mind & his body when he’s upset. Going for the quick walk, counting to 10, or repeating a helpful phrase might also help.
Teach a variety of other skills, such as impulse control skills & self-discipline. Angry children need a fair amount of coaching to help them practice those skills when they’re upset.
5. Make sure Angry Outbursts aren’t Effective
Sometimes children exhibit angry outbursts because it’s an effective way to get their needs a met. If a child throws a temper tantrum & his parents give him a toy to keep him quiet, he’ll learn that temper tantrums are effective.
Don’t give into your kid to avoid a meltdown. Although that may be easier in the short-term, in the long run giving in will only make behavior problems & aggression worse.
6. Follow through with Consequences when Necessary
Consistent discipline is very necessary to help your child learn that aggression or disrespectful behavior isn’t acceptable. If your child always breaks the rules, follow through with a consequence each time.
Time-out or taking away privileges can be very effective discipline strategies. If your child breaks something when he is angry, make him help repair it or make him do chores to help raise money for repairs. Don’t allow him to have his privileges back until he’s repaired the damage.
7. Avoid Violent Media
If your child struggles with the aggressive behavior, exposing him to violent TV shows or video games isn’t going to be helpful. Prevent him from witnessing violence & instead, focus on exposing him to games, books, & shows that model healthy conflict resolution skills.