"Do not teach your children NOT to be angry; teach them How to be angry"- Lyman Abbott
Anger is an emotion, not an action! It usually mobilizes a response to danger, but it is also a form of self-expression. Children have a lot to be angry about and sometimes the result is verbal or physical aggression. As many other emotions, feeling angry is neither good nor bad as long as it is managed properly. While many parents struggle with their children’s difficulty to manage their emotions, anger management is the most important life skill to teach your children.
The first step to managing anger properly is to let your children recognize their early warning signs of anger, whether physical (fast heart beat, sweating, shaking…); mental (irritability, angry thoughts…); or behavioral signs (shouting, shutting doors, throwing objects…).
Help your children understand the feeling that triggered their anger. It could be any feeling varying from fear, worry, sadness, guilt, disappointment, embarrassment, jealousy, or frustration. Explaining their anger opens the door to solutions.
After your children have recognized the signs of anger and have an idea of the trigger behind it, they are ready to learn better ways of responding to any anger. Here are 8 ways to share with you:
- Let them stop and think before they act and remember the anger rules: don’t hurt yourself; don’t hurt others and don’t ruin things.
- Encourage them to label the emotion: verbalize feelings instead of acting them out. For example “I am angry”; “I am disappointed”; “I feel hurt”…
- Teach them how to practice deep breathing: it is an excellent tool for stress and anger management as it tricks the body into thinking it is in a calm state.
- Start with yourself: role model appropriate behavior when you are feeling angry so your kids will react in the same way next time an angry feeling rises up. They surely don’t want seeing you losing control!
- Let them take a break or distract themselves by doing another activity that will calm them down. They may want to stay in their room for a while or even go for a walk in the garden.
- Teach them problem solving skills by examining the options they have to solve their problem. They could write them down on a paper, and, without knowing it, they would have calmed down their anger.
- Teach them how to be assertive without showing aggressive behavior, by using effective communication skills when seeking help or talking to others.
- Show them that they can decide NOT to be angry sometimes and choose an alternative way to react to the different situations they encounter.
Teaching anger management to our kids is crucial. Be creative in providing them with positive techniques and hints for overcoming conflicts. Remember to encourage your children to communicate, in order to identify the major trigger of anger: it is the vital step in developing anger management strategies.
Youth, Parent and Family Coach