There are many things I wish I’d learner earlier as a parent, but helping my kids manage anger in a healthy way tops the list. Like many people, I grew up in a home where anger wasn’t managed in healthy way. So I had no tools to reference in this area.
I’d try to remain calm during tantrums, but inevitably I’d get triggered and end up angry too. (which was not helpful!) Eventually I found some great resources that helped me become a more emotionally intelligent role-model to my kids.
Here’s what I found most helpful to help kids learn how to manage anger in a healthy way:
- When your child is NOT angry, discuss that anger is a normal human emotion and that with practice, people learn how to work through anger in a healthy way.
Strong emotions can be overwhelming for children. Helping children understand and manage strong emotions is a skill that takes practice and guidance.
- Talk with your child about what might help them work through anger in a healthy way. Help them create a plan or poster with strategies they would like to practice when they are angry, such as:
- Let off steam through dance, running, jumping rope or other physical activities your child enjoys.
- Take ﬁve deep belly breaths when they notice the tension of anger in their body.
- Take a “calming break” by going to a special place ﬁlled with comforting objects like toys and stuffed animals. Reading a favorite book or listening to music during a calming break is an excellent alternative to time-outs.
- Calmly reﬂect back what you see when your child is getting angry.
Say, “I notice your voice is getting loud and your ﬁsts are clenched. I bet you’re feeling really angry right now.” Rather than punishing kids for expressing anger, practice empathy and teach self-soothing skills.
- Help your child recognize where they feel anger in their body (i.e., jaw, breathing, shoulders, ﬁsts, heart)
Noticing bodily cues builds awareness, which is the ﬁrst step in managing anger.
- Praise good behavior and anger management skills when you notice your child practicing them.
- Model these tools with your own anger and frustration when it arises.
I’ve noticed that when I keep my emotions and reactions in check, I stay grounded and can best help my kids navigate their emotions. Like everything, sometimes I do this well and other times I don’t. Luckily, my kids and I are all learning to be more emotionally intelligent in the process.
PASS IT ON. Jessica Speer’s weekly BLOG focuses on helping kids and families thrive. Posts offer simple ideas to help kids and families connect & foster healthy relationships. If you know someone who might appreciate this content, please pass it on! Click here to follow blog via email or Facebook.