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What's Going On In There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life
- By Lise Eliot, Ph.D

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Helping Children to Control Anger - Anger Management Techniques

By Andrew Loh



Parents may use a number of useful methods to help children express their minds in a positive way. They can do this by training their children learn how to control anger in a meaningful manner. The basic method is to learn how to express thoughts and feelings in words and in a positive manner. This approach depends entirely on their mental age and brain developmental status. Here are some of the age-appropriate methods for anger control and anger management in your children.

Preschool stage

Young children, especially in their pre-school age, do not possess the ability to control anger. In fact, they may not be able to meet their own life needs. They rely on their parents to get their daily needs and requirements. Small babies possess an in-built anger display mechanism by crying aloud. Episodes of crying occur in small children, when they fail to get something that they want immediately. If parents do not respond to initial crying, babies can lose their control and start crying ceaselessly and with anger. Frustration leads to rising anger.

Parents will need to respond to crying immediately, so that they can bring down the level of frustration. Preschoolers are notorious for their tendency to get angry immediately, because they display a limited ability to express their mind and get what they require. Therefore, parents will need to provide them what they need and when they need it.

If you find that your children are extremely angry, give them some time to cool down before satisfying their needs. While they are settling down, you can use consolatory keywords like "stop", "don't", "enough" and "it is ok". These words may look very simple. However, when you repeat them consistently over time, they will slowly sink in their mind to reinforce a positive behavior.

Points to note:

  • Learn to differentiate between different baby cries and respond according to the priority.

  • Never ever, neglect a toddler's cries.

  • If older babies (in the age range of 1 to 2 years) get angry, distract their mind by using music or action play techniques.

Kindergarten to 3rd grade

Crying is the main way through which children at this age group tend to display their anger. Confusion, neglect and anything that is overwhelming could start the process of anger. Stopping escalation of anger should be the top most priority. Parents may also need to teach ways through which children can express their minds.

Children at this age need constant attention from their parents. If they do not get the attention they want, they may start building a phase that could eventually burst into anger. Do not try to neglect anger episodes in your children. If you are casual in your approach, you may not develop the ability to control it in the future. Dousing episodes of anger could be a big problem at this age. Parents will need to find out alternate ways of responses to distract children from getting angry.

Some children may dislike going to school at this age; separation anxiety is the biggest culprit that might make some children develop situations that may eventually lead to anger. Schools may look and feel like a jail for a majority of children. Schools also create frustration, hurt and anger in some children. You can contact the class teacher with a request to look after your children; in many cases, KG and lower class teachers display a remarkable ability to manage anger in young children.

Points to note:

  • Assist your children to express their minds and expressions. Teach them most useful words and expressions that can help them express their opinions.

  • Calm them down immediately when they get angry.

  • Get to know why your children is getting angry.

  • Teach them how to solve their problems on their own.

  • Let the ambience inside the home be casual, relaxing and joyful.

4th grade to 7th grade

Older children in the age group of 10 to 14 years are also prone to developing occasional display of anger and aggressiveness. However, they possess some rudimentary abilities to express their feelings and mind. Excessive anger in the form of temper tantrum is a dangerous trend and you may need to take stern action to control it. You can sit down with your children and tell them why getting angry is bad. You may also try to teach them the basics of breathing exercises and meditation.

Children belonging to this age also know how to control anger in their own way. It is also very easy to convince them how to avoid getting angry. Spanking or beating is counter-productive and repeated incidents will make children violent and aggressive.

Points to note:

  • Be friendly with your children and listen to their problems.

  • Teach them the basics of yoga, breathing exercises and meditation.

  • Let them express their feelings and bare their minds. Occasional crying is good for health.

  • Teach them the basics of self-control; cooling-off is a self-generated controlling method that can help children bring down the intensity of anger.

  • Teach them the ways and techniques that will help manage anger episodes; counting from one to ten, drinking a glass of water, using a punching bag, listening to music, walking down in the open and washing the face are some cooling down techniques that you teach your children.

Anger is an in-built mechanism through which people can exhibit their inner mind and its behavior. Anger used in a positive manner, could be a big advantage. On the contrary, negative anger is quite dangerous and detrimental to health.

Featured Resource

The Angry Child: Regaining Control When Your Child Is Out of Control
By Timothy Murphy, Ph.D and Loriann Hoff Oberlin

Will a hard-to-handle six-year-old make headlines later for shooting up a school? It is unlikely, but parents need to know how to deal with an angry child--how to help the child manage anger and aggression, and how to recognize the signs of serious problems. Psychologist, child development expert, and Pennsylvania state senator Murphy offers "easy-to-follow strategies for coping with all the conflicts, both large and small, that arise each day."

With simple, direct techniques, Dr. Murphy shows it is possible to help an angry child understand what triggers his outbursts and develop new approaches for coping with potentially explosive situations. Identifying the ten telling characteristics of an angry child, Dr. Murphy provides examples from his clinical experience to help adults guide their children to more responses that are appropriate.

 

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