Anger is universal. I’ve learned recently that my youngest child has a temper like mine, and anger to match. And it’s not always pretty! Here’s how to teach kids to manage their anger (and yes, some of these will work for adults too!)
I’ve always been a short-tempered person. Always. As a child, I was impatient and now, as an adult, I’m impatient. While my temper has gotten better, when it explodes; boy does it explode.
As an autistic adult with ADHD, I have emotional regulation issues. Does that excuse me from losing my temper and yelling? Of course not.
But it does at least give me a place to start with how to better manage my emotions so I’m not always losing my cool.
As my youngest is getting older, I’ve noticed similar patterns with her. Coincidence? Probably not. I’ve come to realize that the time is now to help her manage her anger. It’s just one of those things that we’ll have to deal with as she gets older and continues to mature.
How to Teach Young Kids to Manage Their Anger
Parents with children of all ages sometimes need to have some anger management strategies for children when they react inappropriately. There are times when all children react inappropriately when irritated, sometimes saying mean things to parents and other siblings, or even lash out physically towards others.
When the anger becomes problematic, parents need to find ways to help their children to deal effectively with their anger issues. Anger management for young children usually involves very simple strategies that they can remember and use without being prompted every time to do so by the parents.
Anger management strategies for children who are older and can analyze things can take it to a deeper level so that they can begin to recognize certain trends and triggers that might be setting off their behavior.
The first and best strategy in anger management for young children is to be a good example. Providing positive reinforcement through setting a good example is what young children will pick up on and follow more than anything else. Children should always be talked to in a calm and quiet manner. When things get difficult and the children are irritated, parents have to remain calm and refuse to get into an argument about the current situation.
Discipline needs to be done in a calm manner as well so that children learn that lashing out in anger is not an appropriate way to handle it.
Anger management for young children is also taught through some simple strategies that they can practice when they are not angry and can be prompted to use when they start to get irritated. One anger management strategy for young children is to have them pretend that they are blowing bubbles when they start to get irritated. This causes the children to get more relaxed through the deep breathing that occurs with this type of pretending.
It also slows their breathing down which also helps them to relax when they are starting to become angry.
Another anger management strategy for young children is to have them pretend that they are in a place that they enjoy. They can pretend they are at their favorite amusement park, or in a comfortable place in their room with their stuffed animals or dolls. This also allows them to take their mind off of the irritation and helps them to calm down.
They can be taught how to use their words to express their dislikes in an appropriate way and also when it is time to just obey if they are told no.
Anger Management Techniques and Strategies for Older Children:
The main type of anger management technique for children is to replace the old habits with new ones. The name for this is providing substitute behaviors that are easy to use so that children can learn them quickly and have an easy time implementing them when they start to become irritated. When the children are starting to become angry, the parents should remind them of the new strategies that they have been practicing.
They should only be told once and should be told as soon as they get upset so that the anger does not have the opportunity to escalate.
Teaching the children how to journal or use art work to let out their feelings in a constructive way may also help. This also helps to deconstruct what the triggers are that cause the children to become angry in an unhealthy manner. Once these triggers are recognized, the children can be more readily taught to use their new behaviors to relax instead of lashing out.
Anger management techniques for children also include the way parents talk to their children when they are upset. They need to work especially hard not to engage in arguments and also to speak calmly to the children so they can calm down. They can also reward the behavior when the children respond properly to an irritating situation so that they are more likely to use it in the future.
Anger Management Strategies for Parents
In anger management for children, one of the most important things that parents can do is to practice the strategies that are healthy for managing their own anger.
It is important to handle anger in a way that is constructive, so that they are not yelling at the children and especially are not physically angry towards their children. One aspect that can be difficult in anger management for children is not to argue with the children since this is merely a power struggle that escalates the situation between parents and children, leading to words being said that are hurtful.
There are also some anger management strategies for children that can be found in group settings, such as support groups for children and families. These groups usually have some type of work book or other materials that go with them so that more study can be done at home. These groups are beneficial on many levels because they provide an outlet for the children to talk to other children about common things that irritate them.
They also give parents resources, such as other parents to talk to about the problems that they are facing with their children.
In some cases, anger management strategies for children need to be taught one on one in a conventional counseling setting. There are times when parents and children have a difficult time deconstructing what the underlying triggers are and are not finding resolution to the problem as quickly as they would like to be able to do. In other cases, the outbursts are too damaging and more serious steps need to be taken in order to help the children to learn healthy ways to deal with their anger.
In the one on one setting, the therapist can meet with the children for the majority of the time and then meet with the parents as well at the end of the session to give homework for the next week.
Whatever strategy or technique that you use, make sure it’s consistent. And always remember, you as the parent, are the first example. If you aren’t in control of your anger, it’s not going to help the situation.