Whether it’s because of not getting the treat he wants or fighting with his sister over a toy, all children get angry at times. Often it is a reaction to frustration, stress, disappointment or simply when a child doesn’t get their own way.
Child psychologist and mum Michelle Karavas shares her five top tips of how parents can help their children manage their anger in a healthy and positive way.
1. Use an emotional vocabulary with children
It is important to teach children that all feelings are healthy and normal; however, children often need tools to learn how to best manage their emotions. Using an emotional vocabulary with children is important as it normalises it for them, and shows the child that you accept and validate their feelings e.g. “Oh that must be so frustrating for you” or “I can see that you look sad”.
2. Use visuals
As children understand and communicate at different levels, visuals (or pictures) can also be used to help a child communicate. It is a great tool to help them see and understand what they are being asked to do, especially when they are in a highly emotional state. Visuals give the child the ability to process the information in their own time and act as a cue to inform children what they can do and simplify the message by breaking it down into small achievable steps. For example developing a calm chart together e.g. when I get angry I can: Jump on trampoline, punch a pillow, and kick a ball.
3. Teach body warning signs
Teach your child to look for the warning signs in their body when they start to feel angry. For example children will say their heart is beating fast or their face is turning red. It is a good idea to make children aware that their body is their best friend and their body will give them warning signs to let them know when they are feeling a particular way.
It is important for parents to model how they effectively manage their own feelings. By acting calmly we can help reassure children that they are capable of successfully managing their own difficult feelings.
5. Praise your child
This is important to do when you see your child managing their anger in a helpful way. By getting down onto your child’s level and praising them shows your child you are noticing them for good behaviour not just when they are not doing the right thing. This can help boost self-esteem and increase their motivation to do well. Being specific with praise e.g. “I really liked the way you walked away from your brother when he snatched the toy off you” tells your child what they specifically did well, as opposed to saying “well done for not getting angry”.
The Day My Brain Went Crazy is a children’s book designed to help children who find it help children who find it difficult to self-regulate and manage their anger.
Michelle was inspired to write the book after working with many children to help them better understand and deal with their anger. The book helps children learn helpful strategies for managing their temper in an easy to understand and practical way.
The Day My Brain Went Crazy can be purchased from Amazon and www.michellekaravas.com.au