There's almost nothing that is more difficult as a parent than regularly facing outbursts of anger and aggression from your children. But you're not alone; children are increasingly expressing anger or frustration—both in public and in private.
Our culture of violent video games, news stories, television shows, movies, and music has only made controlling fits of anger more difficult for children.
There is a way out! With consistency you can train your children to respond in calmness and not in anger. Here are five secrets to help your child learn constructive ways of expressing anger or frustration.
1. Be an Example
Your child's number one example is you and they will default to your response. If you want your child to respond with calmness and kindness, you need to model it for them consistently.
2. Walk Away
Sometimes we all need space and perspective. Teach your child that sometimes the best approach is to walk away. You can also model this approach.
If your child is frustrated at you and starting to get out of control, say, "Before we decide if we can have your friend over (or whatever the situation is), let's take a break and think about this first. We can't talk until we're both calm." Then take a few steps away until you are both calm.
3. Talk it Out
Sometimes it's easy to walk away but harder to come back together and talk it out. Learn to ask helpful questions like, "What did you not get that made you angry? or "What do you think will make you happy?"
You can use the answers from these questions to teach some very important life lessons. While every child may not respond as well to talking their problem out, it's important to not "bottle up" frustration.
4. Practice Empathy
Whenever we struggle with anger, we're often failing to see the situation from other perspectives. You can help your child practice empathy by asking questions: "How do you think it made your friend feel when you told him you hated him?" or "Why do you think she wouldn't want to invite you to their party?"
5. See Warning Signs
Help your child see the early warning signs of anger or frustration. A simple list can help: talking louder, talking faster, clenched fists, feeling hot, etc.
You can use these to point out the early signs of anger. "You're starting to talk louder and faster. Are you starting to feel angry?"