12 things to do when your child is angry

Aug 01 , 2021

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Ankur Tandon

12 things to do when your child is angry

The best part of dealing with young children is, it can be both joyful and challenging at the same time. Like adults, children do get angry which can take many forms such as hitting, pushing, pinching, kicking, biting, throwing and sibling rivalry. 
Aggressive behaviour can be a normal part of child development and it can take many forms such as hitting, pushing, pinching, kicking, biting, throwing and sibling rivalry. When children receive consistent negative consequences for aggression they learn to improve their behaviour with new skills. However, aggressive behaviour can be a symptom of a bigger problem and parents might need to seek professional help.

Why do children behave aggressively?

Young children have only been on earth for a short period and they have limited life experience and language skills.  Conflicts and aggressive behaviours are to be expected.  Behaviour is a way young children communicate and it is an opportunity for parents or adults to mentor, guide and teach.  

For toddlers, who can’t say ‘don’t do that’ when someone takes their toys, they behave aggressively to express their displeasure by hitting, biting, etc.  

For preschoolers, who can’t regulate their emotions or lack language ability to say ‘I’m angry’, they behave aggressively by kicking, throwing, etc.

Sometimes, children behave aggressively to get what they want or to get their way.  And when they find activities like hitting, kicking, throwing, etc. going their way to get what they want, they keep doing it.

How to respond to aggressive behaviour in children?

As we deal with young children, it is important to respond instead of react when children behave aggressively.  But, before you can effectively respond to aggressive behaviours, we need to understand the reason for them.  It is a child’s way to express their emotions and needs.  Aggressive behaviours can be due to various reasons, such as-
  • Boredom, frustration, fatigue, hunger
  • Curiosity
  • Basic temperament or personality
  • Learning differences
  • Family stress, illness, neglect or abuse

When responding to aggressive behaviour in children, we need to think of ourselves as a guide/mentor rather than a disciplinarian.  Gently teach the children the skills to respond to frustration, guide them to become reasonable, happy and productive adults in an appropriate way.

12 things to do when your child is angry:

When responding to aggressive behaviour in children, we need to think of ourselves as a guide/mentor rather than a disciplinarian. Gently teach the children the skills to respond to frustration, guide them to become reasonable, happy and productive adults in an appropriate way.

  1. Spend quality time everyday talking and listening to children

  2. Give children the same respect we give adults

  3. Focus attention on children’s strengths

  4. Consider how we interact with children and others around us

  5. Providing safe environment where children feel safe, valued and respected

  6. Offer two choices that are okay with you and ask, which you would like to do?

  7. Try the ‘when/then’ strategy, e.g. when you put away the books, then you can go outside.

  8. Create a special space, such as ‘cozy corner’ or ‘talk-it-out chairs’ for calming down

  9. Give verbal prompts, teach sentence frames, e.g. ‘I feel angry when you take my toys.’

  10. Involve children in activities, ‘Can you help me put the dishes away/ help me wash out these paintbrushes?’

  11. Limit the amount of time children spend sitting

  12. Plan for lots of movements

 


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