anger children

Dealing with difficult emotions: child’s anger

Emotions are a very important aspect of life, and the awareness of their meaning and mindfulness in experiencing have a huge impact on the proper development of every young person.

The way we perceive and experience emotions in early childhood translates into our adult life. In this matter, it is also very important to support parents who are role models and set an example on how a child can deal with them.

Each child feels both positive and negative emotions, and most of them are necessary for their proper development. 

The latter category is often called difficult emotions due to the fact that experiencing them is a challenge for the child himself and sometimes also for his environment. 

Some children deal with difficult emotions well, i.e. they can express them in a way that relieves them and does not hurt other people, but many of them do not cope well with them and then it becomes so-called. difficult behaviors, which include, among others: destroying objects, verbal or physical attack on another person, and sometimes even on yourself, closing in on yourself, running away.

Remember that children who display difficult behaviors do so because they lack the skills to behave differently.

The most important thing when it comes to helping your child deal with difficult emotions and behaviors is to find and understand their cause. Sometimes a better understanding of the child’s motives is enough to improve the relationship with the parent.

I would like to pay special attention to the anger that causes the most difficulties for children in experiencing.

Of course, anger is just as important and necessary as other emotions because it helps us set limits (it makes itself felt when we cross them) or motivates us to act or stop certain activities. Both children and their parents often find it difficult to clearly identify the cause of anger. Based on my observations and conversations with children, the most common of them are: gossiping and laughing at a child by others, leaving the game when something fails, fatigue, criticism, being ignored by others when someone takes something from them, forbids or refuses them, unfair accusations, stress, etc.

Once the parent finds out the specific cause of anger based on his own observation and conversation with the child, which is the most important as our observations may often turn out to be subjective and contradictory to the child’s feelings, he or she can proceed to prevent aggressive behavior. A parent who understands why the lack of certain skills affects the child’s behavior, does not take everything personally, can react with more compassion and caution, without making the situation worse and is more open to cooperation.

There are many ways to deal with anger, but the most important thing is that they are appropriate to the age, temperament and needs of the child. It is very important that this method is agreed jointly or suggested by the child with full parental approval, because only then is there a chance for the behavior change to be successful. 

Here are some ways to deal with an anger:

  • talking to a loved one,
  • counting to 10,
  • focusing on your breathing (you can help yourself by putting your hands on your stomach and focusing on his up and down movements),
  • rest,
  • outdoor activity,
  • painting your anger,
  • boxing the pillow or tearing pages or old newspapers (only for children who are already able to understand that this is a substitute action aimed at preventing hitting another person, not even more “winding” them), etc.

Older children should be asked how they would solve the situation that makes them angry, in younger ones it is worth reaching for therapeutic fairy tales that will help them better understand what is happening to them. All children can use various teaching aids, such as worksheets, art therapy drawing and literature related to emotions, which of course should be selected according to age, which should not be a problem due to its wide variety.

Every day I work with children who show difficulties in controlling their anger, which has a large impact on their functioning. I have noticed in them, among others:

  • constant blaming themselves,
  • low self-esteem,
  • problem with self-acceptance,
  • lack of close relationships with peers,
  • self-aggression, etc.

Unfortunately, the lack of acquiring the ability to deal with difficult emotions in early childhood makes it more and more difficult with age. control them.

Older children, adolescents and even adults who cannot control anger, dominate others by shouting, dominate the more submissive and display aggressive behavior. That is why it is so important for parents from early childhood to show and teach their child how to cope with difficult emotions without resorting to verbal and physical aggression.

Marta Gajb PrusaczykAuthor: Marta Gajb – Prusaczyk

Marta supported us during one of the local events in Poland prepared together with Association of Foster parenting in Wałbrzych. She is a coach (also after parental coaching courses), a communication specialist and a pedagogue of the care and education specialization with sociotherapy.  She works in Sensorek – centre for parents and children in Wałbrzych, where for several years they have been offering communication workshops  for efficient communication as a way to have successful relationship with children. Marta also runs her own workshops “Emocjonki” for children of all ages and recently also mindfulness training.