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How to help your child deal with anger

PHOTO CREDIT: Popsugar

Helping a child deal with anger is one of the most overwhelming aspects of raising a little human. Anger is a basic emotion, which applies to all humans and serves as an adaptive or survival emotion for humans signaling a possible threat. It helps us communicate with others and propel us to achieve goal-directed behaviour.

Children are much more impulsive with emotions due to their still-developing frontal lobe and cortex. Think about helping your child deal with anger as a journey and not a destination. Kids will need ongoing support and teaching to cultivate healthy relationships with their emotions, especially complicated ones like anger.

To help your child on a healthy roadmap to handling anger especially into adulthood, parents should normalise all emotions, including anger which is a physiological change that happens to a child’s brain making it tough, hence unable to think clearly and act rationally. Teaching your child that anger is their bodies natural way of alerting them that something isn’t quite right, will help this intense emotion feel less overwhelming.

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When your child is in a state of high emotional arousal they aren’t going to hear or remember much of what you’re saying, hence parents should provide frequent and on-going opportunities to talk about emotions and coping skills for anger during normal everyday life. Team up to make a plan for how to calm down when angry before anger strikes.

The most powerful way to help an angry child is for you, the parent, to stay calm yourself. You are your child’s guidepost and they are counting on you to stay in control when they can’t. If you’re not ready to hold yourself accountable when emotions are running high, you shouldn’t expect your child to.

Parents should also teach emotion vocabulary; when you give your child a wide range of emotion vocabulary, you’re giving them a vehicle to better understand what they’re experiencing and also how to express it appropriately. Teach your kids about different emotions, which is the first foundational step to raise an emotionally intelligent child. Most kids will need the active support of a parent or caregiver to work through their anger to calm and regulate their nervous system.

Supporting your child through the storm of their anger and exploring through trial and error what helps them regain emotional stability. A huge part of supporting a child’s emotional regulation skills is helping them to develop self-awareness around their bodies’ physical reactions to anger.

Teach through modeling as your child is watching how you act when you’re angry. The most powerful way to teach your child how to deal with anger in a positive way is to model and practice healthy coping skills right in front of them. So go ahead, pause and take five deep breaths the next time your child tries to get on your nerves.

Anger is a normal and healthy human emotion for a child to express and the earlier they cultivate a healthy relationship with it, the greater their ability will be to successfully adapt to life’s frustrations, staying in control of anger instead of letting anger control them.

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