OH NO! It’s Anger!
ANGER is a normal emotion.
Too often, kids are taught that it’s not okay to be angry. I overheard a babysitter telling my son not to be angry, but instead to be happy. I didn’t correct her at the time, because I didn’t have the tools I’m going to share on this site. But, when she’s back next, I will be sure to coach her on how to coach my son through his anger. Truth is, most people are afraid of anger and try to get away from it as fast as possible, because of how powerful it can be and what it can make people do. But that is the exact reason we need to focus on teaching kids the skills to recognize and handle their anger in appropriate ways.
Let’s Get Angry!
To begin, think of something that really makes you angry… I mean really angry. Now, imagine how you’d feel if someone said either of the following: 1) “Don’t be angry, be happy :-)” or 2) “Wow, I can see you’re really upset… I’d be upset too.” In the first sentence, being angry is not okay. But in the second sentence, anger is normal and even understood. You’re kids are having real feelings. Anger is very real. There is no question about it. So, don’t pretend it’s not there or try to redirect them away from it. Acknowledge their feelings, recognize they are angry. This is just a simple observation. “Wow, I can see you’re very upset.” This is the first step to teaching kids how to handle anger.
Anger and Older Kids
If your kids are older, you may find they go right into what happened to make them so angry. The fact that you are just there to listen will give them space to share what’s going on. You could add, “I get really angry sometimes too… would you like to share what happened?” They won’t feel challenged or judged. Remember, actively listening is one of the most powerful and effective methods to help your older kids handle their anger and solve their problems. But if your kids are younger, chances are you know why they are so mad, and they will need coaching to understand how they feel and what to do with their intense emotions.
Anger Can Be Dangerous
Intense emotions lead to many things. If you just look at adults… why do some become addicted to alcohol or drugs or smoking or food? Why are some adults impulsive and other abusive? It’s very obvious… they never learned good coping skills to handle their strong emotions. It’s your job as a parent to teach your child coping skills for their strong emotions… even anger!
If you teach a child that it’s not okay to be angry, they are going to think something is wrong with them. And, every time they feel angry, they are going to try to get away from it as quick as possible. So, when they become adults, what’s the fastest way to get rid of anger? Have a drink or two, a smoke or two, or just hit the nearest person! Empower your child with the ability to handle anger, instead of fearing anger. Talk to them about anger and about what makes you angry and how you handle it. Then, come up with solutions to how they can handle their anger appropriately. They might even have some ideas of how to “cool off”. Remember to include the rules of intense emotions (coming soon).
Cool Off Mantra for Anger
Imagine if your child had the mantra, “ooo, I’m angry… but I know everyone gets angry at times… now I need to manage my anger… a few deep breaths… count to ten… take a walk…. get some fresh air… I am going to let my body and mind calm down…. I’ll be right back, I need a moment to cool off… I’m fine, I just need some air… I know the anger will pass… I’m okay… this is normal…” etc. Just think if a child had years to practice this before getting into the real world and how prepared they would be to handle their anger when you are not around.
Talk about anger with your child and foster their emotional intelligence, self-control, self-confidence and self-mastery.