A guide to dealing with angry children
Created by Swapna Nair Updated on Dec 10, 2019
Humans are emotional animals, and we have the ability to choose our attitudes, emotions and actions. That said, parenting is no easy task, and it is not uncommon for our angelic babies to turn into very spirited individuals, leaving us confused and surprised. You should understand that there is nothing abnormal about your child. They are just normal children who are a little bit more intense and sensitive.
How Can I Deal With My Spirited Child?
Indeed, it can be frustrating and exhausting to be a parent of a spirited child. I say 'spirited' and not 'aggressive' because I've been inspired by a famous psychologist's use of the word spirited; it sounds so much more positive. Here are some tips.
Don't label: When your child does something that is not acceptable, don't label him, instead address the behavior. Raju was banging his toy truck on the floor several times. His mom called out angrily, 'Raju stop it. You are a destroyer and you destroy everything.' Raju looked up and continued banging the truck on the floor till it broke. His mother got angrier and spanked him. Does this sound familiar?
- Our first and foremost lesson is that we must never label our children. When the mother labels Rajua 'destroyer', the child picks up the label, and proceeds to fit into that label!
- Never forget that children learn who they are from the others in their lives.
- Instead, imagine if his mother had walked up to him, held his hand and said, 'Raju I know you want to see what is inside the truck so come let us explore it together,' or 'I know you're angry about something, so let's put this aside and tell me what is upsetting you.'
Be tactful and understanding:Spirited children require parents to be more understanding and tactful. It helps if you can stop, pause and breathe before you make a move. Limawas playing with her cousins, but suddenly she was hitting and beating her playmates. Her mom yelled at her to stop but Lima increased her aggression. The mother thought, 'Oh my god, this girl is out of control. She is so stubborn.'
- Here, the mother's thoughts indicate that she is separating herself from Lima
- Instead, if the mother had thought, 'Oh my, something is bothering her, something is upsetting her,' that would indicate closeness, that she is willing to work with her, not against her
- Her mother would have walked up to her, and calmly said, 'I understand you're angry, and it's ok to be angry. But we do not hurt anyone.' Or, 'If you can't handle this, let me help you'. And then Lima would understand that her mother had understood and cared for her
- If your child screams at you, do not do or say anything immediately. Wait for a while and then say, 'I know you're mad. Something has upset you. Let me help. Or even simply, 'What has upset you?'
- A spirited child need a calm, physical presence. This will reassure her that you're available, and that you care
Identifying emotions: Teach your child to identify and name emotions. Shreya came home one day and told her mother that she was boiling with anger! Her mother was in the kitchen. She put aside what she was doing, sat next to her daughter and began to stroke her hair, but Shreya shrugged her off. Her mother waited a while and then asked how her day had been. Shreya was upset about something that had happened at school.
- Now both mother and daughter understood that there had been an issue, labelled her emotions and became more aware
- Always help your child understand what she is or was feeling. It is important that they give a word to her emotions
- Teach her the appropriate words and actions, so that gradually, your child will learn to say, 'I'm irritated' and learn to walk off
Some Things To Keep In Mind While Dealing With A Spirited Child
Normally, spirited children are slow to adapt to change, and they get easily flustered. You need to emotion-coach your child. This will create awareness. When you have a spirited child ensure that.
- She sleeps well, and has a good routine
- She eats nutritious food. Fried and sugary snacks can further make her hyperactive and intense
- Give her space to vent her feelings
- Give her opportunities to play and spend her energy
- Take good care of yourself. You need energy to care for your spirited child
Keep coaching your child on what you expect of her, and what the consequences of not doing it will be. For example: 'I will not allow you to play if you…' isa general sentence. Instead, tell her “If you behave in this manner I will take away your favorite toy for three days” or “you will not watch TV for two days.'
Be specific about the rules. Always tell them.
- What you want her to do (you cannot hurt another/you cannot scream)
- What you will do if he does not … (remove toy/TV for two-three days)
- When you will do (if s/he does not obey)
Did you find these tips useful? How do you deal with your spirited child? Let us know in the comments section!