Angry Kids—Red Hot or Freezing Cold
Angry Kids and the Parents Who Love Them
Are there angry kids in your house? Does your child wake up and start screaming with the slightest slight? Does your teen throw his backpack on the floor and slam all the doors behind him? Or, do you see that stony silence, that glare in the eyes that digs deep into your heart? How do you help him or her begin to understand his anger and well, have a relationship with it?
8 Parenting Tips on Helping Your Child and Teen with Their Anger
It’s hard to cope with anger once it has expanded and exploded into a tornado of powerful energy. How can parents nip it in the bud, so kids can think and reason while they simmer?
1. Slo-o-w Down.
Never, no never, tell an angry person to calm down. It’s so irritating to hear! But if as a parent you don’t react to anger with an impulsive angry command of your own, but wait and slow down yourself, it’s amazing how you’ll see your child simmer down, too.
2. Talk about Anger.
Use language that your child can connect to that describes anger in one word without feeling criticized. Anger can be called “the wave” or “the storm.” It gives you and your child a way to talk about it without judgment.
3. Invite Your Child to Become Self-Observant.
In a quiet moment even hours after the storm, offer your child some time together. Let him or her know that anger is like a wave that rises, peaks, and falls. Suggest that she can observe herself before the peak. Invite her to become tuned in to when this is happening and tell you if she wants, “Mommy, I’m feeling like the wave is going to peak. Help!”
4. Educate but Don’t Preach.
Anger lurks below the surface before the big bang. Encourage your child to think back, moment by moment, as to what led it to surface. This way the unseen becomes seen. The unknown becomes knowable.
5. Use Your Feelings.
Parents can become attentive to how they feel while the anger is churning in their child. Without reacting, monitor your own emotions as a clue to what your child’s emotions might be like. You and your child are separate individuals, but tuning into your feelings can guide you when you try to help your child understand hers.
6. Turn Angry Feelings into Thoughts and Language.
Anger comes from the mind which means there is a way to transform even a cold silence into words. Words tame emotions. Let your child know how ready you are to listen to his thoughts. You don’t and probably shouldn’t provide solutions, just be the sounding board.
7. Examine Anger with Your Child or Teen
Now your child is ready to see how anger has been turned outwards or inwards. Outwards to the world in general or toward other people specifically. Or, inward toward a gloomy or rejected self. Discuss these possibilities without judgment.
8. How Can Anger be a Benefit?
Anger isn’t bad or damaging when it becomes the key to understanding yourself or solving problems. Help your child discern the difference between anger that hurts and anger that leads to wisdom. It’s a feeling that offers a message that something needs to be understood and addressed.