Simple Strategies for Teaching Children to Manage Anger
Can we talk for just a moment about anger... It's on my heart and I'd like to have a real discussion about it. Not just anger in us as parents, but anger in our children. You see, I've come to realize that many adults are not aware of how to manage their anger, simply because they were never really taught how to when they were younger. And so we have to vicious cycle of under managed and or mismanaged angry behaviors that just continue to repeat in us as adults and we pass it on to our children, and they pass it to their children and so on and so on.
Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. But many kids struggle to understand the difference between angry feelings and aggressive behavior. Frustration and anger can quickly turn into defiance, disrespect, aggression, and temper tantrums when kids don't know how to deal with their emotions.
Often times when children are younger and they express a feeling of anger, we as the parent get upset ourselves at the little child and we show it in the worst ways. Such as raising our back hands to them in anger as to motion a slap across the face or bottom. We yell or scream and raise our voices at them. We charge at them with our bodies, indicating a sense of danger or attack (and you mom/dad look enormous to a child) it's threatening and intimidating and most times just plain ol scary! In these types of situations no one is actually being helped or healed and you are merely displaying to your child the wrong way to manage the anger that they are feeling. I think that as parents, it's often a reaction of anger we feel or use to react to a feeling of anger in our children because we've seen it in our parents as children ourselves. You often hear adults or parents say "my parents did it". Or "when I was a kid, my parents did it to me". Or you may not even recognize it as a cycle at all. You may just be reacting in a behavior that you witnessed when you were a child and now you automatically respond the same way.
Can I tell you something...??? Your parents were WRONG and so ARE YOU!
There is a great need to teach our children HOW to manage their emotions, and to let them know that it's OK to have an emotional feeling, even anger. The scriptures tell us to be angry and sin not (Ephesians 4:26). It does not tell us to not be angry, Paul says BE ANGRY, but don't sin in anger. Don't allow your anger to cause you to act out of character or wrongfully. Furthermore, Paul continues on to say "neither give place to the devil". Let God be present in all that we do, even as parents and let us teach our children the same.
There's a scripture that resonates with me so much and it says that c
In verse 4 of Psalm 127, it continues on to say " Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth". Now this one scripture gets me excited and full of joy! Like wow Lord! Imagine that for a moment, soak that in. Our children are like arrows in the hands of a warrior. That warrior is YOU and I. Now, when you think about a skilled warrior shooting an arrow, you must understand that they are not shooting aimlessly with no destination. A skillful warrior aims at a target with precision and focus and hits the target!! They are trained, wise and skillful. So as we should be with raising our children. Aiming them in the right direction with precision and focus. Instructing them in truth and in the ways of the Lord.
Psalms 127:3 - 127:5
King James Version
Oftentimes as parents we tend to punish our children for having an angry emotion. But I submit to you that this is wrong and dangerous for the heart and mind of the child who will grow one day to be an adult and parent themselves. It's important to instill in your child that their emotions are valid. We all have feelings and emotions, even children. It's our responsibility however to teach our children how to not only recognize and verbalize how they feel, but also how to manage or control the feeling. They must be taught! Taught how to control themselves and to not just be led by their emotions. Not even what we consider to be good emotions, such as love or happiness. Let's instruct our children how to identify what they feel, why they feel that way, be able to verbalize it to someone and control it. So that they are in control of themselves and not controlled by how they feel. Let anger control you is dangerous! To you and even those around you. As opposed to reacting, use these moments as teaching moments. You can do it!
Here are a Couple Techniques You Can Use...
- Teach them how to take a deep breath. This is a basic simple technique that works in children and adults. Taking a deep inhale in and exhale out allows the body to calm itself. When a person is angry, adrenaline builds up and cause us to express the anger we feel. So simply taking a deep breath allows you enough time to pause and collect yourself before simply responding in anger.
- Teach them to take a step back from what is making them feel angry calmly walk away or literally step back and just be still for a moment.
- Help your child verbalize what they are feeling. Say it out loud. Not screaming or shouting it, but say it, express it with words. In the moment of anger it can be difficult, so saying how you feel gives them a release to built up energy in the body. They can tell whom they are angry with, that they are angry and why.
- Help your child identify the why. Why do you feel angry right now? Sometimes they just need someone to talk to about it. It's a release.
- Offer your child an out. Have something already in place that they can do in place of anger. Have a calm down box. With something positive the child can do as opposed to being angry and screaming at their sibling or whomever. When they take that walk away, they in turn go to get their box filled with coloring pages, crayons, a funny book or poem, favorite toy they can play with alone. Something that triggers happiness and not anger. Which brings me to another point. Help your child identify what their happiness triggers are. It could be a hug, a song, a book, an activity.. You get the picture.