Tips to manage anger in your child
Created by Ridhi Doomra Updated on Jan 27, 2020
It is quite alarming to see your child losing her nerves...right? Dealing with an angry child can stir up a tumult of emotions in parents. It can be embarrassing, confusing and frustrating. We tell you what to do but first know this: it’s completely normal for a child to behave unreasonably from time to time – it is a part of growing up actually! Yes, in some children, the problem can get out-of-hand and that’s when you need to prep up, before the next bout of aggression takes a toll. Here's how:
ABCD Strategy of dealing with anger in your child
The ABCD is a tried-tested strategy that you need to communicate to your child not when she is already in the 'angry moment', but right away to avoid that moment. Here what it stands for:
A stands for ‘Attention’: Help your child understand how she feels or what she experiences in her body during a bout of aggression. For instance, if she knows the tell-tale physical signs of losing control such as jaws becoming tense, the upset feeling in her stomach and the need to scream in her throat, she will be more alert to the build up. After all, it all happens in the body first - the “hot sensations” - before they manifest externally. Make your child aware of this fact and then follow through with the next step…
B stands for ‘Breathing’: When your child is experiencing any of the above sensations/feelings… she must be taught how to deal with it. Breathing calms the mind, so teach her how to breathe deeply (no matter the tension in the body). It is important that you demonstrate to her as to how to do this. You may also fake a situation: Tell your child to do a mock-up of how she behaves when anger strikes. As soon as she begins, tell her to take a moment to breathe long and deep. Inhaleeeeee slowly, count till 5; hold the breath to the count of 2 and then exhaleeeee slowly to the count of 5. Do it and show it to her. Another way to do this in small children is to give them a feather to hold in their hand and tell them to blow at it while breathing in and breathe out. After she has done this, ask her how she feels. This strategy goes a long way in teaching your child to deal with anger for all times to come.
C stands for ‘Changing The Channel’: Give your child the tools that can help her change her mood. Tell your child that it can be as easy as switching the TV channel. When we don’t like a programme, we change the channe...right? In the same way we can change the channel in our mind. So first you become aware of the body sensations, then you practise deep breathing to calm the nerves and the third step is to switch/distract the mind with a new thought. The next step tells you how you can do this...
D stands for ‘Do Something Else’: To switch the channel, it is important to consciously start doing something productive /creative like play a game, solve a puzzle, do some outdoor activity, write down the thoughts or playing music and dancing (really helps!), paint or anything that your child likes doing otherwise - but surely do something active to flush out the negativity from inside.
Remember this: Positive communication is the key. We parents sometimes use the word ‘anger’ quite loosely, which creates an impression in the minds of the children that being angry is wrong and they start feeling that something is wrong with them. This can create a negative thinking pattern that actually feeds anger. So do sit with your child and tell her in that being angry is just an emotion, which is absolutely normal – it arises like a wave and subsides too. It is just a passing feeling. So dealing with anger in your child is simple – invest some time to EDUCATE and HELP your child.
The ABCD is the technique I use to manage aggression in my child. Do you have some more ideas to manage anger in children? Something that has worked really well for you – please share with fellow parents.