Simple Strategies for Teaching Children to Manage Anger

Can we talk for just a moment about anger... It's on my heart and I'd like to have a real discussion about it. Not just anger in us as parents, but anger in our children. You see, I've come to realize that many adults are not aware of how to manage their anger, simply because they were never really taught how to when they were younger.  And so we have to vicious cycle of under managed and or mismanaged angry behaviors that just continue to repeat in us as adults and we pass it on to our children, and they pass it to their children and so on and so on. 

Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. But many kids struggle to understand the difference between angry feelings and aggressive behavior. Frustration and anger can quickly turn into defiance, disrespect, aggression, and temper tantrums when kids don't know how to deal with their emotions.

Often times when children are younger and they express a feeling of anger, we as the parent get upset ourselves at the little child  and we show it in the worst ways. Such as raising our back hands to them in anger as to motion a slap across the face or bottom. We yell or scream and raise our voices at them. We charge at them with our bodies, indicating a sense of danger or attack (and you mom/dad look enormous to a child) it's threatening and intimidating and most times just plain ol scary! In these types of situations no one is actually being helped or healed and you are merely displaying to your child the wrong way to manage the anger that they are feeling. I think that as parents, it's often a reaction of anger we feel or use to react to a feeling of anger in our children because we've seen it in our parents as children ourselves. You often hear adults or parents say "my parents did it". Or "when I was a kid, my parents did it to me". Or you may not even recognize it as a cycle at all. You may just be reacting in a behavior that you witnessed when you were a child and now you automatically respond the same way

Can I tell you something...??? Your parents were WRONG and so ARE YOU! 

While that may be a tough pill to swallow, it's true. We don't treat children this way. Also, I believe parent sometimes react inappropriately because they are so focused on being "respected" as the parent or they strongly want to emphasize to the child that they are the authority. So they say things like "i'm the only one big enough to be mad in this house". No! You are wrong for this. Little people feel anger too, and it's vitally important that this is recognized and taught. This is why children grow up having poor relationships with others. They have no idea how to recognize, verbalize or mange how they feel. This is a social life skill that is necessary for children and adults. Teach them now. Stop minimizing how they feel simply because they are smaller than you. Big emotions inside of a little person can be scary if not taught properly.

Are our children not a blessing from the Lord? We must know how to properly handle them. Now tell me this, how can a child be told to control themselves or stop acting up, or get it together, or calm down, when they have not been taught??? We have such a huge responsibility to TEACH our children. We put on them big responsibilities of controlling themselves as children, when we as adults don't even know how to in many cases. We haven't given them the tools they need to help them calm down or control themselves either. We assume that they should know how to do that. And how could they? We have to remember to be their parents and part of being a parent (a very large part) means to teach our children. The bible says train up a child the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6). That word train there simply means to teach!  We can't forget that part, it's vital to the overall growth and health of our children. It's difficult to teach a child something you have never learned yourself. So, this may mean you need to take a long hard look in the mirror and identify what is operating within you that still needs healing and correction. If you are angry and have a hard time controlling your own anger, seek assistance on how to do so.Pray and ask God to help you in this area so that you don't pass down violent or unhealthy behaviors to your child. Within this article I will be listing some techniques you can use to help your child handle this big emotion we call anger. You may very well benefit from some of these techniques as well. 

There is a great need to teach our children HOW to manage their emotions, and to let them know that it's OK to have an emotional feeling, even anger. The scriptures tell us to be angry and sin not (Ephesians 4:26). It does not tell us to not be angry, Paul says BE ANGRY, but don't sin in anger. Don't allow your anger to cause you to act out of character or wrongfully. Furthermore, Paul continues on to say "neither give place to the devil". Let God be present in all that we do, even as parents and let us teach our children the same. 

There's a scripture that resonates with me so much and it says that children are a heritage or an allotted portion given to us from the LORD, our children or offspring are a reward from God. Wow! I don't know about you, but I want to be mindful to cherish the gift that God has blessed me to have. When they are infants, it seems as though it's easier to cherish them, you know. They are so tiny and new and innocent. Then something happens within us as they grow older. We know they change, but I'm more so concerned about the changes I see in us as parents as our children grow. The children are still young and learning and growing, but us, we grow colder, less tender hearted, more distant and less understanding in many cases.Why is that? Just a thought to ponder. Let me get back to the scriptures...

In verse 4 of Psalm 127, it continues on to say " Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth". Now this one scripture gets me excited and full of joy! Like wow Lord! Imagine that for a moment, soak that in. Our children are like arrows in the hands of a warrior. That warrior is YOU and I. Now, when you think about a skilled warrior shooting an arrow, you must understand that they are not shooting aimlessly  with no destination. A skillful warrior aims at a target with precision and focus and hits the target!! They are trained, wise and skillful. So as we should be with raising our children. Aiming them in the right direction with precision and focus. Instructing them in truth and in the ways of the Lord. 

Psalms 127:3 - 127:5

3 Lo, children [are] an heritage of the LORD: [and] the fruit of the womb [is his] reward.

4 As arrows [are] in the hand of a mighty man; so [are] children of the youth.

Ephesians 4:26 

King James Version 

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:”

Oftentimes as parents we tend to punish our children for having an angry emotion. But I submit to you that this is wrong and dangerous for the heart and mind of the child who will grow one day to be an adult and parent themselves. It's important to instill in your child that their emotions are valid. We all have feelings and emotions, even children. It's our responsibility however to teach our children how to not only recognize and verbalize how they feel, but also how to manage or control the feeling. They must be taught! Taught how to control themselves and to not just be led by their emotions. Not even what we consider to be good emotions, such as love or happiness. Let's instruct our children how to identify what they feel, why they feel that way, be able to verbalize it to someone and control it. So that they are in control of themselves and not controlled by how they feel. Let anger control you is dangerous! To you and even those around you. As opposed to reacting, use these moments as teaching moments. You can do it!

Here are a Couple Techniques You Can Use...

  1. Teach them how to take a deep breath. This is a basic simple technique that works in children and adults. Taking a deep inhale in and exhale out allows the body to calm itself. When a person is angry, adrenaline builds up and cause us to express the anger we feel. So simply taking a deep breath allows you enough time to pause and collect yourself before simply responding in anger. 
  2. Teach them to take a step back from what is making them feel angry calmly walk away or literally step back and just be still for a moment. 
  3. Help your child verbalize what they are feeling. Say it out loud. Not screaming or shouting it, but say it, express it with words. In the moment of anger it can be difficult, so saying how you feel gives them a release to built up energy in the body. They can tell whom they are angry with, that they are angry and why. 
  4. Help your child identify the why. Why do you feel angry right now? Sometimes they just need someone to talk to about it. It's a release. 
  5. Offer your child an out. Have something already in place that they can do in place of anger. Have a calm down box. With something positive the child can do as opposed to being angry and screaming at their sibling or whomever. When they take that walk away, they in turn go to get their box filled with coloring pages, crayons, a funny book or poem, favorite toy they can play with alone. Something that triggers happiness and not anger. Which brings me to another point. Help your child identify what their happiness triggers are. It could be a hug, a song, a book, an activity.. You get the picture.

Many I know will find these strategies helpful and many probably will dismiss them before they even try. Why? Because your mind has been conditioned a certain way. Particularly within my culture (African American) I feel we are conditioned in  a inappropriate way to handle anger. We are conditioned from a young age to respond! Often times inappropriately. We are conditioned to think "beat their behind" ask questions later, or not at all. This is dangerous and harmful in my opinion. There's a better way. Every child does not need a whooping or physical correction. It's that mental and emotional stuff that needs the help and correction. In you and your child in many cases. Be blessed precious mom! I hope that something here today helps you and encourages you along your journey of motherhood. 


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