Anger in Young Children: Management Tips for Parents

Anger issues in young children can raise a lot of doubt in a parent's mind. It isn't uncommon to feel guilt that the problem is your fault or that you are failing as a parent somehow. The fact is that it's simply harder for some children to manage their anger and show it in healthy ways. The following tips can help you guide your child through this difficult time instead of leaving you hobbled with self-doubt about what to do.

Tip #1: Control your own anger

It is natural for your child's anger to trigger your own anger response. Although this is natural, it is not acceptable for you to join in on a tantrum. Instead, find an anger-management tool that works for you. For example, some people can keep control by practicing slow breathing—breathing in through their nose and out through their mouth. For others, slowly counting to ten works. Find your own control method and use it if you feel your temper rising to meet your child's. Two angry people can't solve anything.

Tip #2: Learn to find the trigger

There are usually fairly obvious triggers to a young child's outbursts, but sometimes you have to look for them. This is especially true if your child is nonverbal or still has limited language skills, since they may not be able to share what upset them even after they have calmed down. After each outburst, take a few minutes to note the events leading up to it and what finally calmed your child. You will likely begin to see a pattern. For example, your child may only have anger outbursts when they are unable to do something on their own, which means frustration is the cause. Once you know the cause, you can then find it more quickly next time and possibly avoid an outburst.

Tip #3: Skip the punishment mentality

The knowledge that an outburst will be followed by punishment can just prolong it, since the thought of the punishment may further fuel your child's anger. Instead, drop punishment and focus on protecting your child and helping them gain control. Let your child know that you understand that they are angry and that you want to help them. Assure your child that you plan to work together with them to solve the anger.

Tip #4: Find the right coping mechanism

Speak in a calm voice and help your child find a coping mechanism. For example, a child that tends to kick or hit needs a physical outlet for anger. Approach them and give them a hug, encouraging them to hug you as hard as they can. While the hug may seem aggressive at first, it provides your child with an acceptable physical outlet that also helps calm them. Kicking a ball can provide the same outlet. Give your child room to find a healthy way to express their anger.

For more help with children and anger, contact a therapist that specializes in anger management. You might try an establishment like Evergreen Recovery Centers.