As adults, we experience a wide variety of emotions and children are no different. Which can sometimes, when they display more “extreme” emotions, be a bit of a shock.
We’ve all heard about the “Terrible Twos” you might even be familiar with the fairly recently coined “Threenager”. We expect to deal with tantrums in younger children, they aren’t much fun and can be very trying to work through, but because they are expected, that eases some of the pressure. Knowing how to deal with outbursts of anger in older children can be harder. The techniques used with a two or three year old may no longer be appropriate. Because the child is older it’s easy to feel that they “should not” be acting this way. However, it can take a great deal of maturity to handle extremes in emotion. As an adult you can (usually!) reason with yourself and deal with your anger in an appropriate manner but this takes time to learn.
Over the the next five weeks we will share five tips for helping prevent and manage angry outbursts in children.
Let calmness lead the way!
As is often the way in parenting, it works wonders when you lead by example. Children are always watching us and will inevitably model our behavior. Explosive and even violent outbursts are learnt but so too is calmness. So whenever you feel anger rising up, try to remain calm. Being self aware will help; take a step back from the situation that is causing your anger, take a few calming breaths. It’s OK to be angry but it isn’t a great idea to shout, scream and throw things around, however much you want to. Vocalise your anger so your child can see that you experience these emotions. For example, say you were driving to your child’s dance class, traffic was extremely heavy and you knew you would be late. Instead of screaming out in frustration, pause, breath and say “I’m feeling so angry! I made sure we set off in good time and now we’re going to be late!”. Once your anger has been expressed calmly (and hopefully the urge to shout and throw something has started to diminish) you can then think of a solution. In a situation like this you might find somewhere to pull over, telephone the to the dance teacher to let them know you will be late and say to your child “Let’s put on some music to cheer us up, you choose!”. Your child will have observed your reaction closely and hopefully they will remember this when they next experience anger.
Part two follows next week.