Are You Raising An Angry Child? Here Are 5 Warning Signs To Watch For
Does your child have low tolerance for frustration and quickly lose control of his temper? Read on to learn about the five signs which will tell you if your child is growing up angry.
By Ashwin Lobo
Anger is an emotion that all of us experience when we feel hurt, pained or wronged. Very young children tend to get distressed quickly and become angry more frequently. They express it in various ways such as sulking, yelling, biting, and crying. But, as children grow up, they learn to deal with their problems and manage their temper. Also, they grasp acceptable ways of expressing their anger.
However, some children are unable to keep their anger under control and often resort to unacceptable behaviours. So, when your eight-year-old curses and breaks his pencil into two because he isn't able to write neatly, it is a cause for worry and concern.
Here are five behavioural signs which may indicate that your child's anger isn't normal and how you can deal with your angry child.
1. Tantrums: It is usually toddlers and preschoolers who are associated with throwing tantrums. However, some older children also do so, and experience frustration. There can be several reasons why an older child behaves in this manner, and it usually relates to an unmet emotional or physical need.
- How you can help your child: When it comes to managing tantrums, the first step is to understand what causes your child to act this way. Observe him to understand the triggers. Once you know them, you should avoid them as far as possible. However, when a tantrum does occur, either firmly intervene at the start of the tantrum or, when it subsides. Help your child calm down and then work with him to find a solution to the problem.
2. Anger outbursts: From being happy and cheerful, some children can suddenly launch into angry tirades for even trivial reasons. They can lash out verbally or physically. This can leave parents feeling dazed and helpless.
- How you can help your child: Children usually act out in anger when they feel overwhelmed, frustrated and scared. So, when your child has anger outbursts, empathise with her. Making her understand that you know what she is going through, can help her calm down and make her feel secure. For example, you can say, 'I know you're angry and want to scream and yell at me. But, you know it is not okay to do that. I am here to help you.'
3. Damaging property: Most children accidentally knock down things and damage them. Some, however, break things as an expression of their anger.
- How you can help your child: Trying to reason with your child at the peak of his angry spell will not help. So, wait for him to calm down as well. Speak to him and help him realise that there are non-destructive ways of relieving his frustration. For example, he can squeeze a stress ball or jump on a trampoline or count from 1 to 100, whenever he feels angry. Also, make your child understand that you do not expect such destructive acts from him. Let him know that he will be held accountable for it and will have to bear the consequences.
4. Threatening or assaulting: Young children often hit or threaten others as it makes them feel powerful. With age, most children give up this habit for more acceptable behaviours. But, some children are unable to do so. They often resort to threatening or assaulting their peers or others around them. When left unchecked, in some cases, the violent and aggressive behaviour escalates to such an extent that parents feel threatened.
- How you can help your child: No excuse can justify the act of threatening or hitting others. Empathise with your child and help her understand that yours is a non-violent home. For example, you can tell her, 'I know you feel like hitting others when you get angry. But, we don't do that. I can help you handle your feelings.' Talk to your child when she is calm to find out what makes her feel aggressive and violent. Teach her some calming techniques like taking deep breaths or meditation.
5. Self-harm: Some children use self-harm as a mechanism to cope with difficult feelings like anger. They do so to give vent to the anger or frustration bottled up inside. Children also hurt themselves to cope with feelings of guilt or shame, or an upsetting experience. It helps in relieving their pent-up feelings. Some ways children inflict self-harm include scratching and picking at scabs, pulling their hair, or biting or bruising themselves.
- How you can help your child: Self-harm is a serious threat to the safety of the child. It can turn into a habit as well. If you notice such behaviour or suspect it, intervene immediately. Treat your child's injuries or get him medical attention. Speak to your chil, but remember that most children who inflict self-harm feel ashamed of their behaviour. So, instead of asking direct questions you can say something like, 'I have seen the cuts on your arms. Can you tell me why you feel like hurting yourself?' or 'Let me help you. I am always here for you. I won't ask too many questions.' Also, seek the help of an expert to help your child overcome the behaviour.
It is very important for you to teach your child how to control her anger. However, if you are unable to change this behaviour, connect with an expert to help your child effectively deal with her anger issues, and learn some anger-management activities specifically designed for kids.
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