Fair   56.0F  |  Forecast »

Managing Your Child's Anger

Got a big kid who's prone to temper tantrums or flies into a rage? Here are six steps to help parents successfully 'fight' back

Neither of my kids, who are 8 and 10, have so-called "bad tempers." But I've noticed that if they're around each other too long, such as when they're home together during the summer, they start to get on each other's nerves. By the end of a typical day, if I'm not careful, someone will be "losing it." Sound familiar?

Whatever it is that sets your kids off, keep in mind that "anger is as legitimate an emotion as joy or sadness and it's the most common way children express feelings of frustration," says Sal Severe, Ph.D., a school psychologist and author of the best-seller, How to Behave So Your Children Will, Too!  But anger can cause problems later.

According to Mitchell H. Messer, president of the Anger Institute in Chicago, children who don't learn to express their anger properly can develop an attitude of perceived unfairness. This mindset can linger into adulthood and contribute to social maladies such as road rage, violence, and the syndrome in which grown men and women act like 4-year-olds when the going gets tough. To manage their anger constructively, children need their parents' help. Here are some temper-taming tactics that can help your kids learn to handle this powerful emotion – and help you keep your sanity.

1. Be a role model. "Children learn by imitating your behavior and emotions," Messer says. So, if you don't want them to carry on when they're angry, be sure to avoid that behavior yourself.

2. Don't take it personally. When your child lashes out at you – "Mommy, I hate you!" – don't strike back in anger. "Reacting angrily teaches children what to say and do to push your emotional buttons in the future when you do something else that hurts their feelings," says Severe. Instead, neutralize your child's anger by acknowledging it with phrases, such as, "I'm sorry you're so angry," or "I'm sorry you hate me today, but I still love you."

3. Give your child choices. After you've acknowledged your child's anger, give her choices. "What do you want to do about this?" "How long do you want to stay angry?" The goal: You want your child to calm down enough to talk about solutions to the problem.

4. Negotiate. Let's say you allow your son an hour of computer time a day, but he won't abide by the rule you've set. "Don't hit him head-on by forcing him off the computer at the end of the hour," Severe says. Instead, sit down and talk with your child about solutions to the problem. "He might have a better resolution than you do," Severe says. When you come up with a rule, write it down—even make it a contract for both of you to sign. By soliciting your child's cooperation, "you'll take away the reason for the power struggle," Severe says.

5. Think ahead. Anticipate tough situations that are likely to cause your child to have an outburst. If you're food shopping, for example, engage your kids in the activity and make them part of the process, such as helping you pick out a healthy breakfast cereal. "The more involved they are in any situation, the better they're going to behave," says Severe. If that doesn't work and a tantrum ensues anyway, leave the store and try again later.

6. Reinforce good behavior. Praising kid for what they do well. "It's a very simple idea, but it's something we all forget to do," says Severe. "Kids live for acknowledgment and approval."

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Passport Rules for Kids

Passport Rules for Kids

If you're planning on traveling with your family outside of the country, they'll need a passport. Find out what you need and how to get passports for children.

Tips for Saving Cash on Flights

Tips for Saving Cash on Flights

Find out how your family can save money when flying abroad and in the country.

Tips for Traveling Internationally with Your Children

Tips for Traveling Internationally with Your Children

Thought about taking your kids for a trip abroad? You should! Here are tips to help make your cultural excursion easier – and cheaper – than you might think.

Staying Home Alone: How to Know When Your Child is Ready

Staying Home Alone: How to Know When Your Child is Ready

Whether you just want to run an errand or need to hit the gym for a break, it could be time to let your tween stay home alone. Here are a few ways to know your kid is prepared.

Craft Roundup: Get Ready for the Beach

Craft Roundup: Get Ready for the Beach

Whether you're hitting the pool or lake, southeast Michigan is packed with watery summer fun. These projects are inspired by (and ready for) this very topic!

Social Savvy: Raising Kids Who Can Make Connections

Social Savvy: Raising Kids Who Can Make Connections

At each stage of development, there are things parents can do for their kids to help them with social skills and making friendships.

Explore the Grand Canyon in Arizona

Explore the Grand Canyon in Arizona

If you haven't seen the wonder that is the Grand Canyon, you owe it to yourself and your kids to go.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement