Anger and love are not antonyms. Actually, they co-exist in this life. In fact, we are angry the most towards the ones we love the most since we have more expectations from them and care about their well-being more than others. Anger is not a vicious feeling – it is born out of feeling injustice and thus we react in a behavioral manner whether it’s verbal, physical or, even worse, by suppressing it. And these feelings are not limited to adults only – they exist among children as well. In order to deal with this intense emotion the right way, we can’t deal with the behavioral response of the child only, and overlook the reason why he is angry. The reason why he is angry will resolve the issue further. It helps to know that each time your child is angry, he’s feeling injustice. That being said, there are ways to get past the anger and build a strong bond with your child, helping them work through their own issues.
Anger is divided into two kinds: definitive and distorted, and each can be expressed towards yourself, other people, or life in general. Definitive anger is the one based on definitive given facts while the distorted one is based on unrealistic expectations or assumptions. Most of the time, our children’s anger is the distorted kind: based on assumptions and expectations. The fact that they lack certain skills to empower them to deal with various situations in life is a major source of their anger.
In order to deal with your child’s anger the right way:
- Listen to your child in his/her explosive moment without pointing fingers, condemning or blaming him/her.
- Calmly ask questions like: “..and how did that make you feel? …what would you wish to have done differently?” This helps calm him/her down by letting it all out and bringing back the logical mind to work.
- Try to control yourself from preaching or giving any sort of advice at this moment. They are not ready to listen or comprehend anything yet.
- Watch your looks. Your angry frown adds up to their anger because they feel unaccepted, ashamed of or even hated.
- Modeling: How do we express our anger? Do we respect our children in our anger? Do we take responsibility over our behavior? They’ll mirror you always.
- Focus on the anger not the behavior. Concentrate on the reason why your child is angry (not the manner he is expressing it), seek to understand what he thinks is unfair – his feeling needs to be given an importance.
- Reading and discussing stories about dealing with anger can be very helpful to young children also.
- For teenagers: Encourage them to write a research paper on anger by reading books, interviewing parents and grandparents, searching the internet, etc…
- After everyone has calmed down and peace is back, offer healthier alternatives to dealing with anger. You cannot tell your child: “Don’t hit your sister when you are angry,” without giving him other alternatives to how to react to his feelings. For example, if she snatched his toy, you can tell him: “Use your words first and tell her she has made you angry and it is not her right to snatch your toy.” It’s even better to ask him to come up with healthier alternatives that he can try one his own the next time a situation may occur.
- Do not encourage your child to suppress his anger by not allowing him to let it out and discuss it. Anger is an energy that has to have its role before it gets defused or else, it will always come back. Suppressed anger in childhood might lead to other more complicated issues such as: lying, shoplifting, soiling or wetting their pants (or even restraining it), withdrawal as a teenager, sudden aggression and violence, suicide or drug addiction, destroyed relationships, and bullying.
- When your child is angry do not mirror his behavior because it will only make the situation worse. It will result in two angry people in the room instead of one.
Finally, you can’t expect a child to deal with his anger in a mature way the way an adult may deal with his anger. A child is a child afterall. The good side of it though is this: Each anger experience gives the parent a new opportunity to train their children on how to deal with their anger in a better way, growing and changing positively.