Childhood seems to be getting tougher with each generation, considering the emotions, environment, confusion and competition children these days, deal with. They are often infamous for being adamant and throwing tantrums. Although it is healthy to express emotions – positive or negative, negative emotions that are not handled well, won’t just hamper a child's development, but in the long run, pose serious threats to others around them as well.
Anger per se, should not be looked down on, as it is also a form of self-expression. Bottling up emotions inside, will only do more harm than good. The problem arises when this expression resulting from lack of self-control, is frequent, does not necessarily hold a valid reason, and turns aggressive.
You may find yourself in a fix, if your child has repeated bursts of anger, and struggles with self-control. Unlike most adults who realize the aftermath of an outburst, children may not understand the dangers of frequent anger.
As a parent, your involvement will make a world of difference to the child. Here's what you can do if your child has trouble with anger management and self-control.
Understand the Reason Behind the Anger
The first step to solving an issue is to understand it well. Dig deeper to conclude if the child's anger is just that, or a deeper problem waiting to be recognized. On first thoughts, anger always comes across as what it is, hostility cropping from a feeling of resentment. Sometimes, just like with adults, frequent anger may be the result of suppressed emotions taking a different form.
Take a closer look at your child's life. Is he dealing with stress in school, at home, or elsewhere? Is he being bullied or isolated? Is he not getting enough attention, or does he feel unloved? Is it possible that your child was abused?
If the anger seems to be stemming up from a deeper problem, speak to the child, his teachers and friends, to get a better understanding. Monitor the child’s activities on the internet, to get a holistic idea of his frame of mind. Psychological profiles based on student activity, on the EdSense platform, is one such way to get a better understanding of the child's state of mind.
Despite its criticality, other often overlooked aspects, are the child's mental health and behavioral disorders. In severe cases, there are chances of the child's anger stemming from autism, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, etc. The right judgement and diagnosis, will help you differentiate between regular emotions and disorders that need medical intervention.
Understanding the type of anger, will present more effective solutions.
Respect the child's emotions
Do not dismiss your child's anger as a passing cloud, or ignore it altogether. Respect the child's emotions. Let it be known that you take their expression seriously, and are willing to invest your time and emotion on their momentary struggle. It is easy to brush off a child's anger when it happens frequently, but this approach will only make it worse.
Find a good time, to sit and have an open chat with your child. Have a heart to heart talk with them on their behaviour. Let them know the repercussions and effects of uncontrolled behaviour. What may seem as too mature an approach, may often be the best. Do not underestimate your child's understanding ability.
If they aren't comfortable with having an open chat on a fixed time, let it be known through words and actions, that you're open for communication on any aspect, at any time. This will build confidence in your child, and they won't hesitate the next time you want to have a discussion.
Lead by Example
Just like change, learning begins at home too. It is no secret that children have impressionable minds. They pick up cues from parents, and subconsciously copy them. Be aware of your emotional quotient around the child. Keep your own outbursts in check, handle pressing issues with a calm mind, and your child will imitate the same. If you realize that your child is merely following your behaviour and response to situations, start with making a change in your own behaviour, thus leading by example.
Stand your Ground
If your child gets angry often to have his way, and get what he asks for, do not give in all the time. Stand your ground. Giving in every time the child throws a fit, will convey that his behaviour is acceptable, and motivate him further. It will also restrain the child from learning important life skills like learning to handle failure, or working hard for a reward
Use creative ways to come up with punishments that won't harm the child. Be careful to not punish the child aggressively, as it may lead to further resentment. An extra study hour, or getting them to clean their room could do the trick. You may also resort to humorous punishments, to lighten up the situation, while sending the required message across. Remember to use this resort, only when the outbursts are not reasonable, as you do not want to restrict the child from self-expression.
Channelize the Anger
Diverting energies directed towards anger, to a more positive outlet, will keep your child's emotional intelligence in check. Encourage the child to participate in sports, or be involved in a hobby that he'll enjoy. Participation in extracurricular activities encourages over all development, while also helping children gain a better perspective of situations.
Half the world's problems could be put to an end, if only we'd all take a deep breath. Such is the power of right breathing techniques, on the mind. Teach your child, controlled and practiced deep breathing, that he can use to calm down when he finds himself in rage.
Appreciate Positive Emotions
Positive reinforcement, encourages a child to lean towards positive behaviour, than taking the easy route of an outburst. Reward or recognize the child's good behaviour, and he is more likely to stick to it, when on the verge of losing patience. Be vocal and generous with your appreciations, when you notice good behaviour. Focused concentration and recognition on the positive, will eventually fade the negative.
Take Professional Help
If things get out of hand, and far beyond your control, do not hesitate to take the help of a child counsellor. A counsellor is well versed with the mentality of a child, and will be able to help him deal with anger in more authentic and constructive ways.
The right approach and patient parents, can go a long way in addressing anger and self-control in children. Remember to be empathetic towards your children, for childhood isn't as easy as it looks.
- Jiji Tharayil