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What Is Anger Management for Children?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Anger management for children is a means of helping children recognize when they are angry, and control their angry feelings for a favorable resolution to the situation. Young children often don't recognize the physical symptoms of anger, such as accelerated heart rate, rapid breathing, feelings of physical warmth, and muscle tension. Children typically also don't have any coping strategies to help them cool down and approach frustrating situations calmly. Anger management for children can help children learn coping strategies for dealing with anger, such as taking deep breaths, doing a few minutes of strenuous physical exercise, or distracting themselves with a pleasant activity. Children who learn anger management skills are generally less likely to demonstrate behavior problems in childhood and adolescence, and are usually more likely to grow into well-adjusted, happy adults capable of healthy relationships.

The principles of anger management for children are often very similar to the principles of anger management for adults. Children, however, often need the help of caregivers to recognize angry feelings for what they are. Caregivers can often help by pointing out to children when they are displaying behaviors symptomatic of angry feelings. When children are older, caregivers can explain the physical symptoms of anger so that children can learn to recognize them as they arise.

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Expressing feelings can be an important part of anger management for children, but children often have a hard time expressing their feelings verbally. Many caregivers have successfully helped children express themselves through drawing, painting, or other forms of creative expression. Children who are struggling to control angry feelings can be asked to take several deep, slow breaths and count to ten or higher. Children who are experiencing feelings of anger and frustration while struggling with a difficult task can be encouraged to seek help or emotional support from a caregiver or other capable, trustworthy person.

Many children will benefit from physical activities that help them burn off the muscle tension and adrenalin rush that often accompanies angry feelings. Bike rides, short runs, punching a punching bag, or engaging in a pillow fight can all help children burn off this excess adrenalin, and can often restore feelings of happiness and calm.

Young children especially can be prone to act out angry feelings violently. Caregivers should generally be ready to step in and separate fighting children. Allowing physical space between fighting children can help the children begin to calm down. Caregivers can firmly, but gently, assert their authority to stop fights when children act out violently towards one another.

Most experts believe that anger management for children should begin as early as possible in life. When infants throw temper tantrums, experts typically suggest leaving them to it in a child-safe area if possible, or calming them with a long hug if the episode occurs in public. The sooner children learn anger management techniques, experts believe, the less likely they are to demonstrate behavior problems throughout life.

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MTrivedi
Post 5

Follow through with consequences. A child must face the consequences of his actions if he is to learn to stop and think before he acts. “If you can’t be together without hurting each other, then you can’t be together. If you want another chance to play, see if you can remember this."

Children need to know that their bad behavior hasn’t turned them into bad people. Apologies and making amends help them move from the guilty feelings that come from knowing they were wrong to having hope that they can do better.

Thanks for posting the article.

TEffect
Post 4

Trivedi Effect - Whenever the child is upset or angry a good anger management technique is to tell him to go and talk with some adult whom he admires and listens to. That person can be anyone, a parent, a teacher, an adult neighbor or anyone else. It is very important for the child to share his or her feelings with someone and if that person can teach the child how communication can solve any resolve then you child definitely feel much less angry. Nice article.

browncoat
Post 3

@Mor - It's a tough call. I read a study a couple of years ago where they explained that anger can become a habit. If you allow yourself to get angry as a standard response it becomes more difficult to regulate your behavior.

I guess I think children should know that it's the same as any other emotion. It's real and it's important, but it shouldn't be a justification for anything.

Mor
Post 2

@pastanaga - That is a good story, but I think it's also very important to explain to kids that it's OK to be angry sometimes. I would want my children to be angry at injustice or bad treatment for example. And I think it's all too easy to teach children, especially little girls, to push down their anger in every single circumstance, which just isn't good for them.

It's all a matter of scale and perspective. They shouldn't ever feel out of control, but a little bit of anger isn't necessarily a bad thing.

pastanaga
Post 1

I've always thought a really good way of explaining anger to children is to tell them the story about the boy and his father and the fence. It was a boy who was frequently angry and his father told him that every time he took it out on someone he should hammer a nail into their fence and every time he held his temper he could take a nail out.

The fence ended up with a lot of nails at first, but gradually the boy began to learn how to hold his temper. And one day he proudly showed his father that there were no nails left in the fence.

The father congratulated him but pointed out that even though the nails were gone, there was still a bunch of holes in the fence. And that was what anger could do. It could leave scars even after it's gone.

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