Parent’s guide for the Anger Management in Kids

Are you shocked by your child’s anger? You are worried and do not understand what to do further? Relax!!!! Anger is a common and healthy human emotion. We all experience it at times in different situations. The kids also come across this. Before they face trouble and lose control, it is important to teach kids ways to identify their emotions; and express and manage them without harming their own personalities. In this article, we will understand anger in child, the anger management strategies, tips to control anger and foods that can help.

What is Anger in Child?

Anger is a strong emotion that the child experiences when something goes wrong or when someone wrongs them. Stress, frustration, and irritation are common feelings associated with it. Anger is something that everyone experiences from time to time. It’s a totally typical reaction to challenging or stressful conditions.

Anger becomes a problem only when it is shown excessively and begins to interfere with daily functioning and relationships. Anger can range from mild irritation to rage in intensity. It can be difficult to keep your child’s emotions under check in these situations, which may lead them to act in ways they wouldn’t normally.

Reasons for anger in child:

Multiple factors can contribute to the child’s anger. The common reasons that bring out anger in a child:

  • Disappointment: Kids don’t get what they want
  • Helplessness: Kids are forced to do something which they might not feel like doing
  • Sadness: Kids feel sad due to poor performance in academics or rejections by their peers
  • Fear: Kids fear losing something or someone like fear of losing parent when forced to go to school for the first time
  • Impatience: Kids lose their patience easily and this might cause anger
  • ADHD or learning disability
  • Lack of sleep (How sleep & brain development is connected?)

HELP kids to identify their anger:

Firstly, the most important thing in managing anger for kids is to help them understand their feelings. The child should be able to communicate their anger, depression or frustration. But how do you help them identify anger? Well!! You can play games such as “Displaying emoji faces” with your kids. Say, for example, you can ask your child to show a happy, sad, or angry face and then ask them the reason why someone might have that feeling. Apart from this, you can encourage them to read stories about emotions and have open discussions about the good and bad feelings that they possess. (How to improve concentration in kids?)

Help them to differentiate between anger & aggression:

Anger is a human feeling or emotion while aggression is the behavior shown as a result of anger and is often expressed in the form of destruction or violence. Explain the difference between angry feelings and aggressive behavior. Aggressive behavior like temper tantrums, disrespect, fighting, spitting, throwing things, slamming doors, etc., are the result of anger and frustration. Teach them, “ Getting angry is fine but showing the above aggressive behavior is totally unacceptable”. Help them to make sure they are in control of their behavior when they are angry. Also, try to understand the reasons behind their anger or frustration. (Foods that help in brain development?)

The anger management strategies for children:

It’s never too early to educate your child on how to manage his/her anger rather than allowing it to control him/her. However, keep in mind that mastering these anger management strategies is challenging for young children. They will require your assistance – as well as a great deal of practice:

  1. Put an end:  The child who is angry and out of control, should be separated and taken away from the other person with whom he/she is angry.  It is better to walk out of the place.
  2. Keep cool: Teach your child how to utilize calming techniques/strategies when he/she is experiencing bodily signs of anger. Taking deep breaths, drinking a glass of water, playing with toys, distracting with songs or stories can help the child. 
  3. Think and act: Explain to your child to question herself/himself in situations that provoke their anger, like “ What does this bring to me?” Help them understand that actions taken in anger and frustration are worthless. Understanding and making right decisions are useful. 
  4. Respect other’s feelings: You can help your child to show empathy to others. Teach your child to respect others’ feelings as he/she wants his/her feelings to be respected. 
  5. Identify potential solutions: Always find possible solutions that help both parties to compromise. Accepting the mistakes and apologizing can often bring peace between them.

How to control anger in child?

The anger in child must be controlled and kids must learn appropriate ways to cope up with their anger. Instead of saying “Don’t do that”, teach them other healthy ways to express their anger. 

Some tips to control anger in child:

  • Going for a walk
  • Deep breathing
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Playing with toys
  • Counting numbers and alphabets together, say 1-A, 2-B,3-C, and so on. 
  • Visualising happy moments
  • Drawing and colouring 
  • Listening to soothing music
  • Reading storybooks
  • Singing a song

You should also remain calm when your child is angry. When your child is in angry mode, you don’t shout or take a lecture. Rather calm your child by speaking in a low and neutral tone. They can’t process information in anger, so keep repeating the same phrases like “ I understand”, “Let me help you”, “It’s OK” etc. If you show anger or shout at them during this situation, it teaches them it is alright to yell or raise the voice in anger. Take them to a calm place and recognise or identify their triggers. Understand what’s making them angry and help them practice coping skills.

Set the anger management rules:

You have to set the anger management rules and list out the pleasant and unpleasant behaviors that are acceptable when the child is angry.  Unpleasant behaviors such as slamming the doors, raising the voice, destroying property, and using foul language should not be encouraged.

Teach kids to use anger in a healthy manner:

As the saying goes “ Home is the first school and parents are the first teachers”, it’s you who have to set an example by showing them how to deal with your emotions when you are angry. Kids usually follow the actions of their parents. If you lose your temper, they will likely follow the same. Instead, if you handle your anger in a kind and gentle manner, they get the hang of that too. Refer to the situations when you got frustrated and explain to them how you dealt with it. Expressing your feelings verbally will teach kids to talk about their emotions.

You should also apologize to your kids when you lose your temper. Explain to them the reason and discuss what you should have done instead of yelling or screaming. 

Offer rewards for their behaviours:

You can follow a reward system to encourage your kids to follow the anger rules. Consider a sticker/ star reward chart and put a sticker /star each time your child follows anger rules. On the other hand, you can remove a sticker/ star when they do not follow the rules. And based on the stars/ stickers earned, you can gift them their favorite toys or color pens. This inculcates healthy and positive anger management skills in kids. 

TAKE IT SLOW AND Be patient:

It is not easy to teach children new ways to cope up with anger and it takes time. Keep repeating and practising things. Take it slow and work on one behaviour at a time. Observe the changes and reward them. 

Foods that can help to control anger in child:

Magnesium:

In our body, Magnesium is responsible for nerve transmission and nerve-muscle coordination. In other words, it protects against the excessive excitement in a child (which can be traumatic). There is enough research going on how Magnesium can help in fixing or preventing neurological disorders. Banana, avocado, pumpkin seeds and spinach are some food sources of magnesium.(What are some disorders in which magnesium can help?)

Complex carbohydrates:

Having whole grains and less processed food and flours reduces risk of blood sugar spikes, also they feel full for longer, this will prevent them from unnecessary snacking. It also enhances mood and encourages better sleep. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils are carbs rich foods.(Importance of good carbs for kids)

Banana:

Bananas contain dopamine that helps in enhancing mood. They also contain vitamin B, A, C & B6 which helps nervous system and also aids sleep. Bananas are also a good source of magnesium which enhances mood and tryptophan which is used in cure of anxiety and depression.

Dark Chocolate:

A study showed that eating cocoa for five days improved blood flow to the brain. A small part of dark chocolate helps the brain to discharge endorphins and boost serotonin levels. It helps in lowering stress hormones and decreasing anxiety levels. What better to give child than this favorite food. (Check this recipe for Hazelnut Dark Choco Balls)

WALNUTS:

Walnuts look like human brain’s shape and can help brain health. It contains omega3s, vitamin E, melatonin and antioxidants which are helpful for the human brain. It decreases the enhanced vulnerability to oxidative stress. And it offers the mixed mood-boosting elements of omega-3 fatty acids, tryptophan, and vitamin B6. Walnuts can not only boost happiness but also help with the anger management in child. (What are other benefits of walnuts?)

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