Help your kids, children and teens, learn that anger is a healthy emotion that can be constructively shared. If kids learn this then they are less defiant, less oppositional, more open, and self-assertive. Here’s how to accomplish this feat!!
Parenting Tips for Healthy Expressions of Anger
- Let kids know early on that anger is a natural emotion that everyone has but it’s all about how it’s expressed to make a positive impact on others.
- Teach young kids feeling language like happy, sad, mad and glad. As they grow older give them the nuances of anger such as irritated, frustrated, disappointed, annoyed, hurt, livid, heated, and enraged. The more vocabulary they have for expressing their feelings, the more they’ll be in control of them.
- Teach kids to think before they act by modeling this behavior. Naming emotions gives kids the opportunity to express themselves in words rather than physical actions when they are upset. If they see you do this, they will internalize doing it themselves. Talking, not yelling is the key.
- If kids see their parents are willing to listen to angry emotions, they can experience these feelings without being afraid of them or being afraid of your reactions.
- Listening to angry feelings is difficult—especially if they are directed at you! No one likes to feel someone is mad at them. But the overriding issue is that to show our love and care, we need to know what upsets our kids to discover what is problematic and help them reach resolutions. They’ll be grateful you were there to listen patiently.
- Experiencing anger can frighten kids so they need to know that it doesn’t frighten you. Then they won’t be scared to share these feelings with you and will feel in control.
- Kids need to know that expressing angry feelings doesn’t mean they are bad. Your child or teen should not feel that you judge them harshly for having them but are proud of them for constructively asserting their views.
- Sometimes anger is an overreaction but it’s best not to tell your child this right off. Then they feel dismissed and shut down. If you can allow for the initial distress, you’ll be able to help them through their maze of emotions. By listening carefully to their underlying issues, you will temper their rage and be able to share new perspectives.
- Stretch your teen’s ability to express themselves by reacting to their outburst by asking them to tell you more about it. They’ll be surprised you want to listen, and you’ll watch them collect themselves and be able to address their stressors with you.
- If we, as parents, set the example we are aiming for, kids learn to internalize how to express anger without yelling. They hear us share our feelings in a self-regulated way. If we’re in control, they learn to be in control by waiting, delaying, and patiently sharing their upsets.
Parents aren’t perfect as we all know so well. We make mistakes, get out of control, lose our tempers, and regret things we’ve said. This is inevitable, but not without remedy. It’s valuable to tell your child you reacted too quickly and wish you had responded in a different way. Then tell them your preferred response and move forward. They’ll learn to do the same thing.
Let them know and feel you really want to get it from their point of view before pushing your vantage point on them. When kids feel heard, they are willing to listen.