Children get angry from time to time. It is a form of communication.
Even when we acknowledge this, it can be difficult for us to cope with this challenging behaviour. For them, anger might not feel like a great emotion to be feeling either. Continue reading for seven ways you can support your child to move from an angry to a calm place.
- Acknowledge and validate their feelings
“I can see you’re feeling angry, Harry. Would you like to come and build some Lego with me?” would be one way of showing your child that you recognise their emotion and that you would like to help them do something about it. Sometimes, just those simple words can be enough to make them stop and think, helping them to calm down a little.
- Give them time
Unless your child is putting him/herself or someone else in danger, it can be wise to give them some time and space to calm down. As adults, if someone gets in our face when we are feeling tense and frustrated, it is unlikely to help the situation. Kids can act in a similar way too.
- Create a safe space
If becoming angry is a regular occurrence, it may be worth creating a safe space for them. A little area with a beanbag and a soft toy might be enough. For other children, an area with a CD player to listen to some relaxing music or some books to read might help more. However, for those children whose anger turns to violence, it would be worth ensuring that everything is safe and unbreakable.
- Support them to build some coping strategies
How do we cope when a colleague has angered us? The chances are, we won’t lash out or shout unkind things at them across the office. The older you get, the more coping strategies you develop to help you with stressful situations. Without these, it is likely that a great deal of adults would end up in prison for crimes committed whilst angry.
Maybe we count to ten or clench and unclench our fists underneath our desks to help calm ourselves. Perhaps we take a few minutes out to go and grab a cup of tea or glass of water. It is likely that these are tried and tested, working for you.
Giving your child an idea of what s/he could do to help cope with tricky situations could help. Encourage them to try a few things out such as running round the garden, hugging a favourite teddy, singing a chirpy tune, using a punchbag even.
- Avoid allowing their anger to win
If a child has turned angry because you have stopped them having time on their device, going back on that will only show the child that their anger was worthwhile. It helped them to achieve their desired result and so they will see it as a successful strategy to employ in the future when they want their own way. This is not a healthy way to behave on a regular basis.
- Remind them you love them
You might be feeling like shouting and screaming at them, calling them all the names under the sun. This suggestion, therefore, might seem rather bizarre. However, reminding your child that you love them is important in situations where they are losing or have lost their cool. Resorting to behaviour akin to theirs is unhelpful and serves to undermine everything else you have tried to do to help them calm down. Your child needs to be reminded that even though you might not love what they’re doing, you still love them and always will.
- Allow yourself some space
If you feel your temperature rising and the anger building up, you may be about to blow your top. Take some time away from the situation if you can. You’ve accepted this might be necessary for your child, but it can often be a much-needed action for the parent to take as well. If there is another adult with you, try tag teaming and allowing the other person to take over for a little while, allowing you the necessary time. Single parents will obviously find this a lot trickier, but as long as your children are safe, taking a little time out of the room is not a bad thing. This also serves to reinforce that you are a good role model, showing that everyone needs a little time every now and then.