So how do we support an angry child?
The priority message children need to learn about anger is that it is not bad. It is a natural feeling. It will pass. However it does not ever give you them the right to be mean or aggressive.
We all feel anger over tiny things like mislaying keys or stepping on Lego to much bigger things like or the car breaking down when there is no money left in the bank or even the death of a loved one.
Children have big and little angers too and they are just as entitled as we are to express how they feel (and remember because they don’t have our variety and scope of language they may just shout, wail or scream about it…has to be better than them swearing right?)
How can you help them when they are angry?
1. Hear your child
Let them know you have heard they are angry. Even just by saying you are so cross about that they will feel heard and usually begin to calm. Most of our expressions are a need to be heard, once we are heard we can start to relax a little. Let your child be heard. It works so much better to calm them than demanding they stop that noise immediately!
2. Hold your child
Strong emotions can be overwhelming and you can feel lost and alone with them. If you child was hugely sad you would cuddle them. It can work on an angry child too (not if they are being aggressive obviously) Asking them if they want a hug shows them you are right along side them and not mad at them . You will find their anger dissipates much more quickly if they know you are offering support rather than judgement on their anger and adding to their stress by trying to make them stop expressing it.
3. Help them problem solve (later)
You don’t have to sort out whatever they are angry about right in the heat of their anger. This is often met with insistence that your ideas wouldn’t work. Remember at the point of red mist no one thinks too clearly. later when all is calm spend time with your child and reflect on what happened. Could anything be done about the situation to have stopped them feeling so intensely angry? What could be done now about the situation? Help them explore their own ideas and maybe add a few of your own. You could role play these ideas, write them down or just talk them over depending on the age and understanding of the child involved. Praise them for what they did do well (e.g not being aggressive, talking it over) The aim if for them to feel capable and resourceful the next time they feel angry and to have some strategies in place to get the support they need.
Resources I recommend …