Sometimes it is just difficult to know what to do in the most challenging moments when your child is triggered and angry. It is in these frustrating moments that we often “lose it” as parents.
Solutions for coping with children’s anger
I find this post by Toni Schutta, M.A., L.P., Author, National Speaker, Parent Coach and President of Get Parenting Help Now to be very helpful for parents and caregivers to deal with these moments of intense emotion. Her post follows.
Has your child thrown a tantrum lately, tossed toys across the room or hit a sibling? Odds are that s/he has!
Children’s anger can be exasperating for parents. After all, many adults still struggle with healthy expression of anger, so dealing with a child’s anger can be doubly frustrating.
When your child gets angry, do you take a step back and try to figure out what may have triggered the angry outburst? Many times, believe it or not, there may be a good explanation.
Listed below are nine common triggers for a child’s anger outburst and possible solutions to help your child calm down.
The solutions may help to prevent the next meltdown.
Time of Day– Many children express more anger between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m., right when parents get home from work and want to make dinner. Document what time of day is most troubling for your child.
Parenting Advice: Take 10-15 minutes to sit down with your child and talk over his/her day before you begin making dinner. Give your child something relaxing to do while you make dinner. A healthy snack may also tide them over until dinner.
Abrupt Changes– Children crave routine and structure. They don’t like curve balls.
Parenting Advice: At the start of the day, outline the day’s activities. Five to ten minutes before a change of activity will take place, tell your child what the change will be. i.e.“In five minutes, you’ll need to put the toys away and go take a bath.” Then give them a one-minute warning.
Too much stimulation– Children may get over-stimulated from too many activities in one day or too much of one activity at a time.
Parenting Advice: Try not to over-schedule. Plan down-time in every day. Avoid certain activities if your child is sensitive to stimulation.
Overtired– Most children need 10-12 hours of sleep a day to function best.
Parenting Advice: Make sleep a priority. Tired kids are more prone to outbursts. Develop a relaxing bedtime routine to prepare the child for bed and stick to it.
Parenting Advice: Help your child identify the feelings and be a great listener. Teach your child to ask for what they need from other people by role playing.
Parenting Advice: Acknowledge that feeling jealous is perfectly normal and show your understanding. Share a time that you felt jealous, too. Try to focus on the strengths your child has and never compare siblings. Try to spend time alone with each child several times per week.
Child Doesn’t Get Own Way
Parenting Advice: Pick your battles. If it’s important to you (or to your child’s safety), stick to your guns. You can also allow the child two choices s/he can select from. This allows the child to feel some sense of control. If it’s not that important to you, empower your child by letting them make some decisions each day. You’re demonstrating to the child that s/he is a responsible person that you can trust.
Not Sharing– This is a skill that takes years to master. Hang in there!
Parenting Advice: Allow your child to put his/her favorite toy somewhere that others can’t reach, thereby avoiding some arguments. Assigning an equal amount of time that each child can play with a toy can help, too. Giving the toy a time out so that neither child can play with it if they argue, can also work.
Too much energy
Parenting Advice: Allow your child time each day to run and jump and let off steam in a positive way. Young children need about an hour a day of large muscle group activity.
Remember that expressing anger is healthy and normal, even for children. You can’t shield them from strong emotions, but you can help by finding predictable patterns in your child’s outbursts and making adjustments that will cause fewer outbursts.
These helpful tips can provide a reference point and perspective when we encounter some of the key frustrating moments in parenting. Hopefully parents and caregivers can be strategic to help kids regulate and find some equilibrium in those difficult moments in life.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network