Navigating and Understanding Your Child’s Anger
Have you ever wondered why your child seems so angry or feared that they might need anger management? Does your child often seem irritated, agitated, moody or quickly seems as though they will turn into the Hulk? Well, you are not alone. Parents often express their concern that their child appears too angry and that they appear to struggle with managing their anger. It is important to remember that Anger is a healthy and very normal emotion. This article aims to provide information about anger and tips to for parents to better assist your child with managing their anger.
Again, anger is a normal and healthy emotion. However, anger is known as a secondary emotion. This basically means that another emotion typically is present first. For example, your child is working on their homework and you ask if they need support and they respond to you with anger. They most likely could be feeling frustrated that they do not already know the answer which is also often accompanied by negative self talk. They might also feel embarrassed that they do not know the answer or they might simply be feeling drowsy or even anxious. Anger tends to be a much easier emotion for children and even adults to express and identify. Have you ever felt inadequate at something? It tends to be much easier and more of a habit to respond with anger than to say ‘ I am feeling inadequate and do not know how to handle this issue ‘.
So what can you do to assist your child and minimize the chaos that anger tends to create? Talk to your child about feelings and emotions when they are in a calm state and able to engage. Informing them of all the different feelings that are out there also helps to normalize them. Also, when one is able to identify their emotion and feelings than they are more likely able to identify ways to cope with them.
Also, talk to them about your feelings. It can be very powerful for a child to know that their parents also feel worried, scared, embarrassed, frustrated and that they might express anger in healthy and unhealthy ways. If they are identifying anger and expressing anger try and assist them with figuring out what other emotion or emotions might be present.
Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:
-Teach your child about emotions and feelings to better assist them with identifying their own feelings
– If they are expressing anger assist them or encourage them to identify another emotion that might have been present before.
-Discuss coping skills. There are healthy coping skills and unhealthy coping skills. It is not healthy or safe to express your anger by hitting or other aggressive acts but it is okay to express your anger by taking a break, creating art, going for a walk or taking deep breath.
-Empathize with them and validate their feelings. Feelings are part of what makes us human and regardless of age, race, gender or culture we all experience both good and bad feelings. Even if they identify they are anger it is okay to validate the anger. We all want to feel heard, validated and connected.
Anger is a part of life and all humans feel anger along with many other emotions each day. Teaching children how to express their feelings and cope with their feelings can be powerful and minimize chaos in your home.
Below are a few websites and books that I often recommend that parents utilize to gain additional information about emotions and that can assist in educating their children about emotions and ways to cope. If you feel your child is uncomfortable talking to you about their feelings or if you feel uncertain about how to approach the subject therapy services can also be highly beneficial.
- Understanding Myself: A kid’s Guide to Intense Emotions and Strong Feelings By: Mary C. Lamia
- The Feelings Book By: Lynda Madison
What to Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Problems with Anger By: Dawn Huebner, PH.D
About the Author
Lauren Fontana, LCSW is a therapist and the Clinical Director at our Edison Park location. Lauren works with children, teens, families, adults. Lauren’s specialties include trauma, relationships, DBT, anxiety, behavioral issues, school issues, and mood disorders. If you are interested in working with Lauren, send an email today!
Hi Lauren –
I just read your article and found it very helpful. However, in addition to identifying emotions and working on developing social skills, partly as a result of homeschooling (due to my 15 year old daughter’s panic attacks) my younger daughter (almost 14) who is introverted by nature really needs help with building self esteem and learning social skills. We just moved to a fairly small town in SC (between Augusta GA and Columbia SC) and I’ve been trying to find a teen girls support group to get her involved in. I found one that seems great (GirlTalk) but haven’t been able to determine if they have a location near us or if they’re accepting new kids, etc. I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching options and really need some help.
In the event that you have any ideas or could point me in some direction I would greatly appreciate it!!
Thanks for your time,