Anger management for children
Catch the signal
Anger is the prototype of negative emotion. It is the commonest automatic reaction to threat; frequently anger may be followed by a fight (direct expression) or frustration and irritability (indirect manifestation). Anger of the child is truly not main the problem at hand. The real trouble we need to tackle is the cause of that anger. Until then, getting upset with the child, hitting, slapping, and punishing; nothing helps to cut down the child’s fury. And children feel that anger is an appropriate emotion because they see it n their parents too. Thus anger management in kids incorporates a blend of education for children as well as their parents.
Often children use words they have heard, without knowing their meaning. Likewise these same children adopt emotions without any awareness of their implications. In a one-to-one session with a 5-year-old aggressive child we once asked how she would react if a friend from her peer group disagreed with her. We got an innocent reply: I will whack her on her face until she cries and agrees with me. She said this always worked when she disagreed with her mother because she was whacked and she eventually agreed! Until parents deal with their own children appropriately, today’s children will be unable to deal with their emotions maturely. Children are born with their own brains. Today they want to use their brain as soon as they are born. That truly is something that new age parents of today are relatively unaware of and reasonably unprepared for…
Angry children have different temperamental makeups from calm children. They are innate risk takers. They enjoy physical play and like taking chances in playground games and in the classroom because they feel confident (frequently overconfident) about their abilities. Other children who are calm and peaceful imitate the angry ones by observational learning. Thus a significant component of anger management in children is to help them make their own decisions with full cognizance of consequences. Children need to know what anger is, what it does to their body and how it is capable of transforming their relationships for the worse. When children realize the deleterious effects of anger, they are more likely to refrain from it. Everyone learns form experience, children are no exception.
Feel it picture it say it do it
This is a technique we commonly adopt in our workshops for anger and emotion management in children and teenagers. Children are taught the method of experiencing and enduring anger in test situations. They are made to picture the responses their anger is capable of generating. Then they have to pretend to be in those situations and actually think of things they would say to people when they are experiencing an intense aggressive impulse. These responses are offered by children themselves to other children around them and alternatives are generated. They are thus effectively trained to eventually ‘say’ and ‘do’ the best possible words and actions respectively so that they are able to attain the most positive outcomes for themselves.
Establishing anger rules
We offer children an opportunity to identify the rules and regulations around their anger and aggressive impulses. There are universal do’s and don’ts that are taught to teens and younger children with regard to their outbursts. Children need to learn that anger does not give them the right to hurt others. Once they accept these rules, they are more likely to select alternate behaviors for accomplishing their actions.
Part of our anger management workshop includes parent education and guidance as well as structured take home modules for management of children with anger related problems. Parents need to manage their emotions responsibly in order to have their children do so too. Like all other hurdles that are part of the childhood and teen development process; emotional responsibility and temperament control is one skill we must inculcate in our children at the appropriate time to assure a smooth and peace loving adulthood for them. We aim to achieve this through one to one sessions for children and parents (if needed) and through group workshops and educative interactive sessions.