5 tips to helping children to manage anger
Young children can find it extremely difficult to manage and regulate their anger. Sometimes anger can feel like a terrifying and overwhelming monster that threatens to eat up their existence. Quick to rise, anger can be frightening for everyone involved and it is not always so easy to "just calm down". So how can we help our children when anger threatens to devour them?
1. Remain calm
I know that when our little one is shouting and screaming over some seemingly insignificant event, it can be very easy to match their anger with our own. However, fighting fire with fire is not always the best answer as it only adds heat to those flames.
2. Acknowledge and validate
Acknowledge the anger, try not to dismiss the importance of the child's anger even if to you it seems silly. Talk calmly even if you don't feel calm inside.
3. Reassure and explore
Tell your child that feeling angry is OK but it's how that anger makes us behave (throwing a toy or hurting someone else) that may not be OK. Talk to your child about what that anger feels like inside of them; what does it feel like for you? What would your child name the anger if it were a person? What would it look like? What does that anger make you do? Answer the questions with your child, how would you answer them?
4. Distract and create
Ask your child to draw their monster - call it by it's name, create a story about what the anger is capable of, how it might be possible to calm the anger, what makes the anger come out? What makes it go away?
5. Breathe together, share together, distract together and laugh together
It is not possible to be angry and laughing at the same time! Quick ideas to help:
- Blow up a balloon with all your angry air and let it go whizzing around the room.
- Go outside into the garden or park to see how fast your angry energy can make you run around.
- Draw in a colouring book to scribble the anger out.
- Listen to music and see who can be the silliest dancer.
Hope this helps!
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About Rachel Durrant
Rachel Durrant, BACP reg. BSc(Hons). Adult, adolescent and child counsellor working in Surrey.